By Mary Makhiringa – Mana.
There was jubilation at Senior Chief Kalembo’s area in Balaka when World Food Programme (WFP) through an organisation called Find Your Feet (FYF) handed over a K28 Million worth Nthochi Irrigation Scheme to communities to address low food production that mostly occur due to disaster.
Receiving the solar powered scheme to the community on Thursday, District Commissioner (DC) MaCloud Kadammanja said was impressed with the scheme which grows maize and vegetables.
Kalembo is one of the areas with the highest number of people affected by hunger as the majority live areas prone to floods and mostly worsened by dry spells.
He added that the district council will embraces irrigation farming as introduction of the scheme was in line with the council’s aspiration of promoting sustainable irrigation farming to ensure year round food sufficiency.
“Irrigation farming is one of the key priority areas in our District Development Plan as well as the reforms agenda,” the DC added.
He expressed concern over lack of ownership of the irrigation sites and observed that communities took little efforts to look after assets that were handed over to them by NGOs.
“I have been reliably informed that this is the second irrigation scheme to be handed over to community by the same development partners but lm concerned with lack of ownership and lm also told that the water pump which was installed was stolen,” Kadammanja said.
He called the community around the scheme to take full responsibility of the 3.5 hectares scheme and assured them of continued technical support, linking them to reliable markets and agro processing sectors for their economic stability.
FYF Executive, Director Mellina Mtonga said that through the Integrated Resilient Project, the FYF introduced the scheme to support communities that were mostly living in areas prone to dry spell and floods.
“Utilise the scheme by continuously doing irrigation farming to increasing food production for better livelihood,” she called while observing that many schemes in the district started well but ended badly because communities failed to take full responsibilities on the scheme.
Councillor for Kalembo area, Linda Mwapasa hailed FYF for handing over the scheme saying it was a good alternative to rain fed agriculture which faces many climate related challenges.
She called on the youth in the area to utilize the scheme as it has potential to change their lives rather than indulging in unbecoming behaviours at the expense of their lives.