The World Bank board of directors approves a $157 million loan to Malawi. The funds are intended to combat the watershed degradation that is causing water shortages in this East African country.
“Malawi’s water resources are threatened by severe land degradation and loss of forest cover. Watersheds are being degraded, leading to reduced water availability, deterioration of water quality, increased vulnerability to droughts and floods, reduced energy security and declining agricultural productivity”. The World Bank has thus drawn up the report, underscoring the importance of a project for which it has just approved a $157 million loan via its subsidiary, the International Development Association (IDA).
The Malawi Watershed Services Improvement Project (MWASIP) is initiated by the Government of Malawi with the aim of adopting sustainable landscape management practices in priority watersheds and improving rural livelihoods. The project is the first in a series of operations to support the implementation of the National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy in Malawi.
Restoring 4.5 million hectares of degraded land by 2030
“We have committed in our strategy to restore 4.5 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, and this project is the first opportunity we need to use to reverse landscape degradation and protect our watersheds,” says Henrie Njoloma, Malawi’s Secretary for Irrigation and Water Development.
To achieve these goals, the Government of Malawi, through the World Bank loan, will allocate $40 million to improve the livelihoods of more than 250,000 people through various community grant programmes designed to encourage better land management. The Malawi Watershed Services Improvement Project (MWASIP) will also develop 38 multi-purpose water sources, including 10 small dams, 20 rainwater harvesting structures, eight high-yield boreholes and more.
The Malawian authorities will upgrade water transport infrastructure for 42,000 people. Funds allocated by the World Bank through IDA will be used to build 10 small and medium irrigation systems for 2,400 hectares of cultivated land, benefiting about 5,000 farmers.
According to the World Bank, the project will help strengthen institutional capacity in watershed management to support interventions beyond the project. The Malawi Watershed Services Improvement Project builds on the success of another World Bank-supported project, the Shire River Basin Management Project, which the Government of Malawi is implementing from 2012 to 2019.
Jean Marie Takouleu