Mpira dam is the main source of water supply for Balaka District in Malawi. The dam, which has a design capacity of 3.72 million cubic metres, is no longer operational since July when it dried up. Balaka district has a population of 380,000 people, 74% of them having access to safe water. This additional lack of access to safe water constitute a serious health risk for the people of Balaka’s district. Currently, 20 litres per person are supplied from emergency trucks deployed by the Southern Region Water Board, which is increasing the stress in the already tight finances of this public utility.
The Government of Malawi has developed a contingency plan to tackle this crisis. The plan aims to increase access to water and improved resilience of water resources in the catchment area, benefiting more than 110,000 people with a total cost of US$130,000. Due to lack of hydrogeological knowledge and financial constraints, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development requested support from Scotland, the long-term partner country.
A team from Scotland, led by Prof. Kalin, has been awarded the construction of boreholes and installation of submersible pumps to act as a backup system for the “Mpira Balaka rural piped water scheme”. The CJF Team is using this project to also train Malawian officers and professionals in the water sector about essential supervision tasks related to groundwater points such as monitoring drilling boreholes, installing pumps or sampling water quality.
Scotland, through the CJF Team of the University of Strathclyde, is supporting the Government of Malawi to solve Balaka’s water crisis and increase resilience for the future, both in terms of infrastructure and building capacity.