Nsanje villagers sustain dyke construction project

Dyke constructed by villagers in Nsanje District
Dyke constructed by villagers in Nsanje District. Photo: UNDP Malawi.

Realising that help cannot go on for good, communities in Traditional Authority Mbenje in Nsanje district have mobilised themselves and extended construction of a dyke along Lalanje River that was initially dug with assistance from a UNDP supported project on disaster risk reduction.

Highlights

  • Communities in Traditional Authority Mbenje in Nsanje district mobilized themselves and extended construction of a dyke.
  • A local Non-Governmental Organization Goal Malawi engaged the communities in a food for work programmme to construct a dyke.
  • The communities have extended the dyke by about 500 metres.
  • The first dyke was constructed with assistance from UNDP

Lalanje is a perennial River that flooded during the rainy season. In the past, the river destroyed houses, property and crops. Most families often relocated to makeshift camps during the rainy season to escape floods.

In fact Zitenga School, which is located about 100 meters from the river was abandoned due to flooding. Water filled the classrooms and the school became a death trap hence traditional leaders in consultation with Government agreed to shift all the children to an upland school.

In a bid to help the communities, UNDP through a local Non Governmental Organisation Goal Malawi engaged the communities in a food for work programme to construct a concrete dyke along the river.  The communities also planted trees and elephant grass to avoid soil erosion.

During last year’s rainy season, there was less flooding and communities did not relocate. This according to Traditional Authority Mbenje was attributed to the construction of dykes and planting of trees and grass along the river.

A recent visit by UNDP and Government officials to assess the situation revealed that on their own, the communities have extended the dyke by about 500 metres.

According to the chairperson of the Village Civil Protection Committee (VCPC) Mr. Alinafe Allan, the villagers from five village mobilised themselves and using local equipment such as hoes and shovels extended the dyke.

He explained that they work every day from 6:00am to 9:00am and that both women and men take part in the exercise.

“We mobilised our selves because the problem is ours and not for donors or well wishers. We realise that when we do something on our own, well wishers can come in help. The first dyke was constructed with assistance from UNDP, we are very much grateful for the support and the skills we acquired. Using those skills though with local equipment like hoes, we have managed to extend this dyke,” he said.

Traditional Authority Mbenje also thanked UNDP for the support it provides its communities to reduce the risks of disasters. He explained that his people no longer relocate during rainy seasons like was in the past.

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