- Malawi has "excellent soil and enough water" to go into full scale irrigation farming to offset the perennial hunger that the country faces if the resources are managed properly, a representative of the European Union (EU) has said.
The Programme Manager for the government of Malawi and the EU Public Works Programme (PWP), Adriaan Esterhuizen, said this in the Malawian capital Lilongwe during a presentation, showcasing their works in the nine districts of the country's Central Region to some cabinet ministers and other officials, before a field visit to roads, irrigation and forestry activities taking place in Lilongwe.
- The country has excellent soil and enough water, said Esterhuizen. "If only it can be harvested properly, the country could be saved from the perennial hunger," he emphasized. Malawi his lived through several severe droughts during the last decade.
The Malawian Ministers present were that of Finance - Goodall Gondwe - Transport and Public Works Minister, Henry Mussa, and Local Government and Rural Development, George Chaponda, and his deputy, Patricia Kaliati.
The PWP is involved in a number of projects that include, irrigation farming, the rehabilitation of roads and forestry activities. The European Development Fund (EDF) and the Multi Annual Food Security Programme Fund (MAFSP) fund) the programme which commenced in April 2001 and is expected to end July this year and is estimated to cost euros 25 million (approximately kwacha 3.6 billion, at the current official rate) upon completion.
EU head of delegation to Malawi, Wiepke van der Goo, said last Thursday the programme would be extended for another five years and the number of districts to benefit would also increase. According to Mr Esterhuizen, a large amount of money went into road construction, which covered about 43% of the programme. Forestry had 16% of the funds and Irrigation 8%. The remaining 5 % funding is for the district assembly projects.
The EU says the overall objective of the project, is to contribute in part to the Malawi government's drive towards poverty alleviation and food security in the country.
According to Mr Esterhuizen, the aim of the irrigation programme is to increase household food availability and income. Several districts have benefited from the irrigation programme 4,959 treadle pumps have been distributed, 388 hectares of land irrigated, 1,701 families benefited, 31 holding ponds constructed with 119 stream diversions. 482 clubs have been formed in. Lilongwe, Mchinji, Kasungu, Ntchisi, Dowa, Dedza and Ntcheu districts.
At Madalitso Irrigation site in Lilongwe West, about eight sites are in operation and residents there say this has had a positive impact on their lives as they are able to raise money by selling out of season produce, that includes Maize, Tomato, Vegetables among others, to make their ends meet.
Referring to the road works component, the EU says 2,481 kilometers of rural roads have been rehabilitated, 68 bridges constructed with 675 meters timber deck bridges being replaced by concrete decks.
In the forestry sector, 2,550 hectares of plantation have been established with more than 35.6 million trees planted in 1,695 participating villages.
To date, kwacha 52.9 million has been paid to the Village Investment Funds. The Malawian government through the Ministers present expressed happiness and appreciation with the projects initiated by the EU.
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