Shire Valley Irrigation Project viable  – Official

People of the twin districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje in the Shire Valley have a reason to celebrate following government’s endorsement that the Shire Valley Irrigation Project (SVIP) is viable.

World Bank’s Pieter Waalewijn in an interview

Director of Irrigation Services, Mamba

Director of Irrigation Services in the Department of Irrigation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Geoffrey Mamba  said this on Friday when the project’s officials as well as representatives from the World Bank held a meeting with local leaders and ward councilors in Chikwawa District.

Mamba said according to what had come out of the studies which were being conducted by some consultants in various areas, the results showed that the project was feasible and viable environmentally, technically as well as economically and that what remained was the detailed design expected to take place within six to nine months.

“If all goes as planned, by next year we should start the work by intake, the main canal and then move on with the phase 1.

“We expect the appraisal team from the World Bank whom we should be meeting come September and whatever will come out of the appraisal team, will be sent to the management of the World Bank and that will be further submitted to the board of the World Bank for final take on the matter,” said Manda

He added that as officials and people that have worked in the irrigation sector, they were optimistic to see the project coming to pass in the next 3 or 4 years while calling upon all stakeholders to work together putting to mind that donors out there were ready to assist.

Moreover, Manda said people should not get worried with the Tiger fish which Shire River and the Zambezi basin have that may likely move through the upper shire to Lake Malawi where it will eat the indigenous fish.

“The natural barrier at Kapichira bars the Tiger Fish to move to the upper shire and into Lake Malawi.

“Our design of the canal will consider dropping the vertical alignment with about 3 meters which will be difficult for the Tiger Fish and any other predator that would wish to move across to the upper shire to eat the indigenous fish we have there,” indicated Manda.

On his part, Pieter Waalewijn, Task Team Leader from the World Bank said there was an assurance that the World Bank would approve the project but was quick to say that they  awaited the bank’s board.

Waalewijn stated that the bank has worked with similar types of projects and has been supportive on others commending government’s efforts in all steps to ensure a positive decision from the bank on the project.

“I see strong support from the local leaders, political arms as well as the administration here. I can also see that the people here are aware of what is happening in as far as the project is concerned.

“Construction of the main canal would take about three years after that the funds can be set up, farmers can be organized, land tenure can be organized so that the people can start receiving water,” he said.

He said he had so many expectations from the project describing it as the biggest in the Southern Region of Africa which will likely transform lives of many people in the Shire Valley through job creation as well as economic development.

The $340 million Shire Valley Irrigation Project is expected to see a financial boost of $160 million from the World Bank as well as $50 million each from the African Development Bank and the government of Malawi in its 33 kilometers first phase.

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M. J. Mvula
Guest

This could give a death blow to the food insecurity challenges Malawi faces. We could even export some food products outside Malawi and get the much needed Forex. Bravo the World Bank! Three years from now, we could be talking of something else.

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