By Patrick Ndawala:
Iness Matiasi, 64, of Namose Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlomba in Machinga District, has been earning more money than she did in her productive days.
“I am now able to support my grandchildren and I am planning to build a decent house next year,” a shy-looking Matiasi says.
Matiasi, a widow, attributes the turnaround of things to her affiliation to Namose Irrigation Association.
Through the association, she acquired 0.8 hectares of land for maize irrigation farming and another 0.6 hectares of land was apportioned to her for rice growing.
“Last year, I made K450,000 from the sale of the rice that I grew. I also made K350,000 from maize sales,” she says.
Matiasi recalls her gloomy past when she used to earn a living through charcoal business.
She says she was one of the villagers who could carelessly cut down trees in Chikala Hills to produce charcoal.
In 2015, Matiasi joined Namose Irrigation Association, an offshoot of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project implemented under the banner of Climate Proofing.
Climate proofing refers to a process of mainstreaming climate change into mitigation and adaptation development strategies and programmes.
Namose Irrigation Association Chairperson, Anderson Goweni, says the negative effects of climate change drove many villagers to join the association.
“We have some members who were fishing in Lake Chilwa but, after the lake dried up, they joined the association. Others came because of the scarcity of trees in Chikala Hills,” he explains.
Goweni says 46 out of 62 members of the association are women, perhaps, because climate change has greatly affected women more than men.
He further says that the association has 41 hectares of land out of which 23 are for rice production while the remaining part is used for maize irrigation farming.
For the smooth running of the association’s activities, members came up with a constitution which, among others, demands any new member to pay an entry fee of K800.
Once the entry fee has been paid, the person becomes a member of Namose Village Savings and Loans (VSL) commonly called village bank.
While Matiasi attributes her success to her joining Namose Irrigation Association, Goweni looks at the situation from a relatively broader picture.
“Namose Irrigation Association has been there before 2014 but not many of us were reaping fruits from it,” Goweni says.
He clarifies that rehabilitation of Namose Irrigation Scheme by Machinga District Council, with support from UNDP, under the Climate Proofing project, has resurrected the scheme.
The achievements registered at Namose Irrigation Scheme have also had a far-reaching impact since the scheme has earned the recognition of community leaders in Machinga.
Paramount Chief Kawinga could not hide his excitement during one of the field monitoring visits at Namose Irrigation Scheme.
“You have rekindled our good old days when people from T/As Mlomba, Nsanama, Liwonde and Kawinga areas used to draw water from this side of Namose,” Kawinga said.
Machinga District Council Senior Irrigation Engineer, Dan Sambakunsi, concurred with Goweni, saying the revived scheme was indeed in dilapidated state.
“The Climate Proofing project has supported the council with resources to rehabilitate and improve the water conveyor system. We did not employ any contractor but used local artisans to carry out the work,” he said.
Machinga District Council Crops Officer, Martin Namaona, testifies that crop productivity has tripled following the revamping of the scheme.
So far, Namaona says, the project has provided targeted beneficiaries with 2,295 kilogrammes of groundnut seed.
“We have also distributed 2,000 bundles of sweet potato vines to five farmers and two farmer groups,” he says.
Namaona explains that the distribution was done on agreement that the beneficiary farmers would multiply the crop for redistribution to others.
Namose Irrigation Association is just a snapshot of the five-year Climate Proofing project which is being piloted in Mangochi and Machinga districts.
With funding from Global Environmental Facility through the Least Development Countries Fund window, the project has a budget line of US$5,318, 200 (approximately K403 million).
Machinga District Environmental Officer, Jarvis Mwenechanya, says the renovation of Namose Irrigation Scheme is one mechanism of ensuring bumper harvests among communities through adoption of climate-smart agriculture.
Mwenechanya says the project is being implemented in T/As Nyambi, Chikweo and Mlomba to empower communities to cope with climate shocks.
“Three hot spot areas were identified based on community-based resilience assessment whereby communities come up with an adaptation plan,” says Mwenichanya who is also the project’s desk officer in the district.—Mana
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