Monday, May 26, 2008

Shire valley getting out of flooding problem

There have been philosophies, as solutions to the perennial lower Shire flooding problems; some people have said there was a need for deity intervention, some have consulted ancestors —the mbona thing—others thought the noble intervention was build dams along the problematic rivers. These are all efforts to stop rivers from overflowing and causing floods. Lower Shire has been a high risk area for floods since time in memorial.
Government has its own official position to the solution of the flooding problems: Those in high risk area ought to move to places which are of low risks or upland. To every philosophy or argument there are pros and the cons, so too are these proposed solutions.
For the affected they have their own arguments why they can not move upland, they claim, they have got their fertile gardens on those risk area, the culturists would extend the arguments to the fact that their fore parents were buried there so they can not leave the dead alone, a plausible argument to the believers, so it may sound.
However, the most obvious truth, of late, is that there has been a growing donor fatigue to the lower shire perennial flooding and its subsequent assistance requirement. Some donors entertain the feeling that people, in the lower shire valley, deliberately put themselves on the risk line or vulnerability to ensure that they get freebies in the event of ‘disaster’.
In Holland the Dutch managed to build villages, town and cities below the sea levels, those who cares would remember the dykes, and in Israel and in so many places of the world, they claimed land. This signifies that there is a solution to every problem.
It has been proved that the phenomenon lower shire floods would be reduced to a thing of the past. For the past two years at least there have no flooding at the Nsanje boma and some other places within the risk area.
It is not by cheer luck that there was no flooding at Nsanje boma, which has been a customary in the past; it was actually some people’s efforts that have made a difference. Rivers of life a developmental organisation within the Evalengical church took the initiative to arrest the problem through its disaster risk programme.
Through the programme and working hand in hand with the affected people, the church have mitigated the flooding problem by diverting, digging and building walls in the problematic rivers. And the results have been excellent.
Over 67 families that left for the high areas have come back to reclaim their land as the issue of flood is no longer a problem. The organisation redirected Mwanalundu River, dug out and plant elephant grass along Nyafisi river in TA Malemia and Tengani areas in Nsanje districts, saving at least 8000 families in 27 villages from floods.
The organisation is now in Pangeti and Kachere villages in TA Tengani’s area where the villages has undertaken an exercise of building a wall (a dyke) along Chibwibwi river which mostly affects the two villages when it busts its banks.
“We have been facing flooding problem a thing which reduced people from my village to perennial beggars because we could harvest anything. It was really dangerous because in some instances water would come while people are fast asleep,” said Pangeti.
Pangeti said when the officials from River of Life approached his village with several initiatives that would assist the villagers to avert the perennial flooding, he lobbied his villagers to take an interest in the initiatives.
“There are several intervention taking place, we will plant trees behind the ‘dykes’ that are going to be built trying to solidify the wall. We are also making sure that we should avoid wanton deforestation,” he said.
River of Life Supervisor in Nsanje district, Dyson Mtayamanja said his organisation introduced three initative in the areas as part of sustainable programme.
“We introduced the manufacturing of Mbaula that would use only 20 percent of the needed firewood in a normal circumstance, this initiative is designed to reduce the deforestation, the second intiative is the building of walls along the problematic rivers as well as introducing the irrigation farming as one way of ensuring that people in the areas are food secured,” he said.
About 20 people are trained the manufacturing of mbaula and 29 farmers are in irrigation farming.
River of Life Programme Manager Dingiswayo Jere said the new concept has helped to reduce flooding problem in the lower shire at the same time making sure that people are food secured.
Jere said his organisation efforts does not contradict government’s official stand that people in high risk areas should move to upland but said there were some areas which would be rehabilitated without necessarily moving people other areas.
“Moving people to upland would be seen, in some cases, as mere shifting of the problem. At their new place people will start cutting down trees creating a problem similar to the one they are running away from.
“In some areas, like in area of T.A. Nyachikadza, there isn’t much that can be done apart from asking people to move upland, but in other areas the story would be different,” he said.
Jere said his organisation strives at bringing to normal life of the people that are affected hence the introduction of irrigation farming,” he said.
Group village headman Kachere said the introduction of irrigation scheme has brought some dignity to the villagers because the past year the villagers did not beg for food despite that the village was hit by floods.
“We have enough food,” he s aid.
Kachere assured the organisation that his subject are prepared to take part in the building of the wall along Chibwibwi river and they have already started looking for ‘appropriate’ stones that would be used to build the wall.
“We are told it is not every stone that would be used to build the wall, we need rough stones and we have the right type of stones about 30 kilometres away, we are going to get the stones from there,” he said.
If the building of walls, digging out the problematic rivers would be a solution to the perennial flooding in the lower shire, the areas would become the country’s bread basket due to its good soil and its prospect to irrigation.

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