The Commission is a component described as key in the successful implementation of the Songwe River Basin Development Program. The commission’s launch took place at the Program’s offices in Tanzania.
Malawi Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha, Tanzania Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Water Kitila Mkumbo, the two government’s senior officials and members from the private sector witnessed the launch Monday.
Speaking during the launch, Mwanamvekha hailed the leadership of Malawi and Tanzania governments for their commitment to ensuring that the project is fulfilled.
“We have been waiting for the Songwe River Basin Project for years, now today is the day that we are seeing the implementation of the project,” said Mwanamvekha.
Mwanamvekha added that the importance of the Songwe River Basin could not be over emphasized describing it as a strategic program.
“This Project is very important to both governments of Malawi and Tanzania because previously we used to have challenges and we still have challenges to do with the Songwe River. The river has been flooding and the river has been changing its course because of meandering and that has been creating problems in environmental degradation, access to potable and clean water and access to electricity.
”So this project is there to address those challenges; challenges of water, issues of irrigation, issues of power, even addressing the flow of water of the Songwe River. It will moreover improve lives of people both on the Tanzanian side as well as the Malawian side.”
In his remarks, the Tanzanian government Permanent Secretary for the ministry of water Kitila Mkumbo said his government also sees increased employment, access to electricity and reduced poverty among people living along the basin.
He said this particular commission will have immense benefits because the project will have projects which are going to demonstrate the governments’ commitment to providing food, water and energy to our people.
“Food, water and energy are critical needs for our people in the two countries. So we are going to have a dam which is going to manage the floods that have been shifting our people from the boarders between our countries. Secondary, the dam is going to be generating energy which is going to serve the people of the two countries. There will be water supply specifically for rural areas benefitting 341 000 people.” Said Mkumbo.
He added that the project is a sign of cooperation between the people of Malawi and Tanzania describing it as a rare project opposed to projects that just end on paper.
“This is a true Pan African project furthering our cooperation and collaboration between the two countries. As you know, Tanzania and Malawi have had long term sisterly and brotherly cooperation since the times of our founding presidents Mwalimu Nyerere and Dr. Kamuzu Banda. This one is a Pan African project that’s going to have true benefits to the people.”
Meanwhile, the African Development Bank AfDB has applauded the two countries for launching the Commission. The Bank’s principal transport engineer in Malawi Davies Makasa Bwalya said the countries have demonstrated commitment to the program.
“The Bank has been supporting the project since 2011. Through this period we have approved four grants trying to prepare the investment plans but also supporting the Songwe River Basin Commission.” He said.
He added that the bank has also approved another grant where they want to support the two governments to mobilize resources through Public Private Partnership PPP arrangement.
“The last grant we approved was to support them to procure services so that they be helped to restructure the project to include participation of the private sector.” He said.
The Songwe River Basin is part of the Malawi and Tanzania international boundary formed by the Songwe River.
The basin is endowed with fertile alluvial soils and abundant water resources. It is a home to over 341 000 people who rely on the land for the livelihoods.
However the basin is characterized by Songwe river meandering and the change of its coarse over time has an effect on more than 52 000 people living in the flood plain. They suffer from flooding and land loss caused by the fluctuations.
The Songwe River Basin Program is expected to provide about 180 Megawatts of Power, and development of about 3, 000 hectors of irrigated land in each country among other benefits.