It was raining cats and dogs, but not even heavy rain could deter hundreds of local inhabitants including school children to come out and witness one of the historical moments in the community– the commissioning of the Chimbiya water supply project.The ceremony was also graced by the representatives from the national and local government, and also by the traditional leaders.
Chimbiya Community, in Dedza District, approximately 60 km from Lilongwe, Malawi will no longer travel long distances to access potable water, said Mr Nixon Sinyiza, Director of Water Mission, Malawi. This follows the successful completion and commissioning of the Safe Water Supply pilot project which took place on 13 February 2020 in Dedza District.
The project explored deep aquifers by drilling a 100m deep borehole, equipping the borehole with a motorised electric pump, reticulating the water to ten communal-style distribution points around the community, culminating in supplying water to approximately 15 000 inhabitants in Chimbiya trading Centre.
As she officially commissioned the project to the community, Dr. Yanira Ntupanyama, Chief Director in the Malawian Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development said this project will benefit the community including local institutions such as schools and clinics who struggled to access water to conduct their business activities. She also emphasized that the project will improve livelihoods and ensure that the community has access to safe clean water and eliminate waterborne diseases that have been a problem in the community.
According to Mr Prince Mleta, Director in the Malawian Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and Development, prior to this project, a study was conducted which discovered that there were deeply seated aquifers at 70- 100m underground. Chimbiya was one of the areas where the deep seated aquifers were discovered. With this discovery it is believed that exploring deep aquifers could make water available to the community throughout the year in the face of climate change.
Water scarcity in Chimbiyahas been a huge challenge, affecting livelihoods of more than 15000 people living in the area. The situation exposed the vulnerable community members to water bone diseases and other social ills.
This project promises to be a solution to all the water challenges the community has experienced in the past.
Chimbiyavillage has a fast-growing population that relies heavily on agricultural activities, and not having a reliable source of water was becoming a hindrance to the people’s livelihoods. Approximately 85% of Malawi’s population, more particularly from the rural areas rely on groundwater as their major source of water for their livelihoods, therefore groundwater needs to be managed effectively and in an equitable manner. The Chimbiya experience is however not unique, as many countries in the SADC region are turning to groundwater as the major source of water supply.
The Chimbiya Water supply project is part of the 12 Sub-grant pilot projects SADC-GMI is currently implementing in 10 SADC Member States under the Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) through the World Bank. During the commissioning event, the government of Malawi and the community tanked the donors, SADC-GMI and Water Mission for a successful collaboration and said they will ensure that the scheme remains sustainable way beyond the commissioning.
Guests to the commissioning event were treated to lively entertainment from the community members through poems, music and drama.