Eagles relief and development programme (malawi) flood mitigation case study
1EAGLES RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, LIVING WATERS CHURCHINTERNATIONALDISASTER RISK REDUCTION - CHIKWAWA1.0 PROJECT NAME: FLOOD MITIGATION1.1. IntroductionOne of the Tearfund partners in Malawi is working in a flood and drought prone district known asChikwawa. The district lies in the Great African Rift valley floor, in which passes the Shire river, thecountry’s sole outlet of Lake Malawi. It is therefore a very low-lying area. For the past three years,flooding has worsened in many areas in Chikwawa, including one area where Eagles is working calledMthumba. The flooding is mostly as a result of rivers overflowing their banks into crop fields andvillage settlements due to siltation of the rivers and streams, and lack of vegetative cover, destroyed bylarge-scale deforestation and degradation of the land, including cultivation along river banks and onriver beds, during off-rain seasons. The results have always been catastrophic: crops, livestock andproperty destroyed, even loss of human life and large-scale soil erosion. For instance towards the endof the year 2005, and the beginning of 2006, Mitole E.P.A which encompasses Mthumba area,floods devastated an estimated 1,495 hectares of land, affecting 52 villages and 4,706 farming families.1.2. Background and Project RationaleEagles Relief and Development program started implementing a Disaster Mitigation and Preparednessproject in Mthumba in 2003, which aimed at addressing underlying causes of food insecurity. Onemajor cause of food insecurity in the area according to the communities was flooding. Besides thedamage in terms of loss of crops, soil, property etc, floods would also disturb schoolchildren at aprimary school in the areas because water would accumulate in school blocks and pupils could not usethe classrooms. The risk to water borne diseases was also prevalent.Initial Response to the Flooding Problem – [2004 to 2005]From 2003, Eagles with its communities started some small-scale flood mitigation work. 5 villages wereinvolved, namely Fombe, Nedi, Chikalumpha, Santana and Kanthema. Considerable results wereachieved from the measures, viz:Nedi village storm drain reduced the water flow through the village, protecting people, theirhouses and the Community Based Child Care Centre[CBCCC].Chikalumpha village’s wood lot slowed down the water that swept through and forced it downthe drains and away from the people, houses and fields behind.Santana village’s earthen flood dike helped protect their crop fields from damage, to a veryconsiderable degree.
2Picture on the left : 2004 - before the construction of the storm drain in Nedi village. Water would flood rightinto the village, increasing the risk of water borne diseases and damage to houses. Picture on the right: 2005 –after the storm drain was constructed later in 2004, a lot of flooding waters were directed away from the villageand the community was greatly relieved. The authorities of a nearby primary school were also relieved that forthe first time their classrooms were not flooded.All the four photos above show the same place in Chikalupmpha village where villagers decided to establish awoodlot, as they knew it was vulnerable to flooding. 1stpicture shows the woodlot in 2003, soon after 1,200 treeswere planted, with some committee members inspecting tree performance. 2ndpicture shows the trees that havegrown considerably, later in 2003. 3rd Picture shows the small trees highly stressed out and almost washed bysevere flood waters in January 2004. 4th picture shows same place in December 2005, with evidence of seriousflooding that almost developed into a river. This time the trees ably contained the floods, held their ground andprevented houses, fields, livestock and people behind the woodlot from literally being washed away during the nightsof 24thand 25thDecember 2005.The impact of Storm drain at Nedi Village:The impact of Chikalumpha woodlot/mini-forest:2.0 Project Objectives/AimsThe goal, purpose and objectives of the flood mitigation project are as follows:Goal : To contribute towards improved food security and livelihood in targeted flood prone areas ofChikwawa.
3PurposeReduction of flooding of Mthumba river through rehabilitation of the river course and reafforestation ofcatchment area.Immediate objectiveso To rehabilitate Mthumba River Courseo To promote sustainable management of forestry resources along Mthumba river bank and uplandareas.o To promote improved land and crop husbandry practiceso To ensure effective and appropriate measures and interventions are developed, enforced andimplemented by all relevant stakeholders in the districto To promote improved livestock husbandry practices3.0 Project Interventions and ActivitiesWhen larger scale flooding occurred in 2005/ 2006, with greater impact than the previous years, it becameclear that flood mitigation interventions needed scaling up. The initial work in flood mitigation left out 11villages, which were not in Eagles original impact area, which happen to be part of the Mthumba River andhad contributed towards the flooding problem they were experiencing. These villages needed to beinvolved to increase the level of the impact of flood mitigation. Eagles realised that there was also need fora multisectoral approach to the flooding problem since the impact of floods was holistic. In summary, thenew plan included the following strategies, approachess and activities:• Advocacy:o For a multi-sectoral and concerted action against flooding involving the District Assembly andall key Government departments.o With communities to enact the bye law, that prohibits farmers from planting within 20m ofrivers/streams.o For provision of resources such as seeds for replanting, grasses and trees for planting.Government departments, Illovo Sugar Company were to be approached for resources such astrees, and vertivar grass.o For the review/development of disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and responseplans at District level.• Networking:o Improve networking; especially join the Civil Protection Committee of the District Assemblythat was mandated to look into disaster-related issues including disaster response.• Community mobilization:o Sensitise traditional and church leaders to take responsibility for flood mitigation in their areas.o Together with local and government leaders, mobilise affected communities to analyse andappreciate the root causes of flooding in their areas, take responsibility for mitigation anddevelop appropriate action plans.o Review together with all stakeholders, previous flood mitigation efforts, what worked and whatdid not i.e. (dikes, storm drains, tree and grass planting)
4Stakeholders from Govt. depts. and other DECmembers, including community members, shareobservations after surveying Mthumba river andthe extent of flooding in the area.Group Headman Fombe, and other local chiefs assisted bytask force members sensitise affected communities atFombe village on the issues of flooding, the need to takeresponsibility and to be proactive.4.0 Achievements to date:• Advocacy:From March 2006, Eagles held advocacymeetings with the Government District Assemblyand the District Executive Committee [DEC].Three meetings were held and one field visitconducted for DEC members leading to theformation of a special multi-sectoral task force towork with Eagles in flood mitigation work ofMthumba area. The task force is under theDistrict Civil Protection Committee [CPC], whichis responsible for the organization andcoordination of disaster preparedness andresponse in the district.• Community sensitization and mobilizationEagles mobilised communities, together with taskforce members, to discuss what the communitiesfelt were the underlying causes of flooding.Elderly community members explained how theriver used to flow before trees and grass were cut along the river. Communities explained thatcareless cutting of trees along the river bank and cultivation of the river banks were responsible for thediversion of the river and thereby causing flooding.• Community InitiativesThe following activities and interventions and were carried out by local leaders and communities:o Community sensitizationmeetings by local chiefs in 14villages on flood mitigation,causes of flooding andpossible interventions.o Community action planning.o Community trainings in treenursery raising and landhusbandry practiceso Construction of dykes andusing sand bags to strengthenthe dykeso Digging of water speedcontrol dams; 6 dams weredug. Eagles contracted a civilengineer to assess theconstruction work and makerecommendations on theconstruction work.o Digging of a trench to divert river to its original course. Eagles hired an excavator to speedup the excavation redirecting water to its original course and strengthening the dykesbefore the rains
5[Left]: Chikwawa Forestry Extension Agent, Mr. Joseph Maganga, trains villagers the right way of sowingtree seeds.[Right]: Some committee members of Jacob Village inspect tender tree seedlings at their treenursery, raised after receiving training in tree nursery establishment.• Task force activitiesThe task force comprises the following departments and agencies: Roads, Agriculture, Water, Forestry,Lands, Community, Health and Information departments; CADECOM[ Catholic DevelopmentCommission of the Roman Catholic Church], Local Living Waters Church, two Traditional Authoritiesand a group village man.o The task force conducted two field trips to survey the affected areas and come up with awayforwardo The task force also developed its own rolesand responsibilitieso The task force developed a strategy andaction plan for flood mitigation work, bothin the short-term and long-term.o The task force has met at least 10 timessince its formation in June 2006, to reviewprogress and strategise. It was during one ofthese meetings that the idea of engaging anexcavator to supplement community effortsin river redirection and dyke formation atPende village came up. Pende village was onthe verge of being washed away by floodsduring the current rainy season if Mthumba river, which had diverted towards the villagein…. was not redirected back to its original course.o Training of communities in natural resource management, nursery raising, tree planting andforestry managemento Provision of expertise and supervision of community flood mitigation initiatives.Some members of the multi-sectoral taskforce on flood mitigation inspecting one ofthe 6 river water speed control dams dugalong the Mthumba river.
6Impact of flood mitigation work to dateo Flooding of the river into crop fields and village settlements has been significantly reduced.Lives, property, land, crops, and livestock have been saved from being washed away insome villages. A good case in point is Pende village which was in the direct path of part ofMthumba river, because of a diversion. Water is flowing back in a 400 meter long trench inthe original river course after a successful excavation and dyke constructiono Communities have realized their potential and confidence to deal with flooding ofMthumba river.o People have gained knowledge and skills as to how to solve flooding problem. Skills andknowledge include : raising and planting 15,000 tree seedlings. Eagles Relief supplementedwith an additional 30,000 seedlings.o People’s attitude change and taking responsibility to solving their own problems/. Theyrealised that cultivation along the river banks/on river beds, wanton cutting of trees along[Left]: An excavator at work helping in dyke formation and redirecting a river course away from Pende Village.[Right]: Villagers from Pende village reinforce dyke with sand bags.Original river course restored: [Left] -Village Headman Santana with great relief pointing to direction ofMthumba river course redirected away from Pende Village.Tree planting on and behind the dyke: [2ndPicture] - An old woman committed to bringing back the good olddays when trees and other forms of vegetative cover were abundant in the area; she plants her own tree albeitwith difficulties, as she joins everyone else in tree planting behind and on top of the dyke.[3rdPicture] - Leading by example: group village headman Fombe assists Traditional Authority Kasisi to planta tree as part of the rehabilitation exercise of the Mthumba river course. [4thPicture] – A Member of Parliamentfor the area Honourable Gobede joined the community in tree planting at the dyke site; in the pictureHonourable Gobede completes planting his tree, assisted by a Forestry Extension Agent.
7the river bank has generated the flooding problem. They now, likewise, realize that theyare responsible for the rehabilitation of the river banks and environment.o Reduced school calendar disturbance due to floods.o Reduced water borne diseases.o Access to food through food for work program. A total of 1,568 households benefited.5.0 Issues and Challengeso Since a lot of tree seedlings still have to be raised in dry months, watering will be a challengeduring the dry seasono There is need to enforce by laws concerning livestock so as to protect trees that have just beenplanted . Normally, soon after harvest, livestock are left free to graze and may damage thenewly planted trees.o Slow decision – making process by virtue of working with the task force, which cannot meet aseasily due to numbers of people involved.6.0 Lessons Learnt and recommendationso Networking and collaboration with influential government authorities as well as traditionalleaders is very important in the management of disasters. They are a big key in communitymobilization. Their involvement ensure continuation of and support for the work even afterthe phase out of the project.o The process of participatory analysis of disaster risk, is very important. In this project, oldmembers of the community were able to explain during PADR, how the river had changed itscourse over the years and why it had done so. Through this analysis, communities drewsolutions to their problems and implemented the project.
8ANNEXES:MAP OF SOUTHERN REGION OF MALAWI SHOWING CHIKWAWA AND OTHERDISTRICTS, INCLUDING PART OF THE GREAT AFRICAN RIFT VALLEY AND THE SHIRERIVER: