Malawi: Economy Ticks With Water, Says Nankhumwa - 'Creating Resilient Malawi'

4 December 2019

Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Kondwani Nankhumwa says the major challenge that the water sector is facing in Malawi is climate change and its associated effects, noting that floods, drought and water pollution have now become part of life.

Nankhumwa: Government appreciates the importance of water sector to economy Toulmin: Malawi made great steps in developing the water sector Group photograph

He was speaking at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on Tuesday, December 4, 2019, when he officially opened the12th National Joint Sector Review (JSR) Workshop for the Irrigation, Water and Sanitation Sector.

The theme of the workshop is "Creating a Sustainable and Resilient Malawi Through Irrigation, Water and Sanitation Development".

"Catchment areas for our water sources have been encroached and heavily damaged. This year's theme is challenging all of us to start doing things differently. It is calling on us to be proactive and ensure that we put in place necessary initiatives, interventions and technologies to ensure that we minimize or indeed abate the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation to the sector infrastructure and service delivery systems," Nankhumwa said.

The minister noted that JSR workshops are important annual events, which provide a platform to assess and reflect on sector's performance on various programmes and activities that were planned for implementation during the previous financial year.

"I would like to call on all the stakeholders present here to have a candid discussion on the performance of the sector and how best we can improve irrigation, water and sanitation service delivery. The core purpose of this workshop is not just to receive presentations, or 'finger pointing' who is wrong or right, but rather to draw lessons and recommendations and suggestions that can steer effective and efficient performance in our quest to achieve the sector's aspirations for the common good of the nation," he said.

He added that government appreciates the importance of the water sector to the economy as water has direct linkages with agriculture and food security, industrial development, natural resources and environmental management, health, tourism, fisheries and transport, among others.

Nankhumwa said, therefore, water is a resource that is indispensable, not only for attaining good human life and health, but also for the conservation of the ecosystem and economic development of this country.

"It is because of this importance that we say, Water is Life. Just as nothing can tick without life, no economy can tick without water," he emphasized.

He expressed his "sincere and profound gratitude" to development partners and NGOs who have assisted the Malawi government with both technical and financial support to ensure that the workshop takes place, singling out UNICEF, Water Aid, Pump Aid, Water for People, World Vision, World Bank, Climate Justice Fund, FAO and Northern and Southern Region Water Boards.

"Let me further particularly thank World Bank for ably leading other Development Partners during the period under review as well as welcoming the incoming Lead Development Partner, UNICEF. Your support is greatly required on implementation of the recommendations that will be made by this JSR. We need to strengthen the partnership by collaborating resource allocation to the identified sector priorities," he said.

In his speech, Greg Toulmin, Country Manager for the Irrigation, Water and Sanitation - Joint Sector Review congratulated government and ministries, NGOs, and all development partners "for the dedication and commitment in achieving the undertakings agreed in the Joint Sector Review held December 2018".

"I am aware, in the year 2019, Malawi made great steps in developing the water sector and demonstrated capacity in resolving important challenges. The successes demonstrated by this sector during the destructive floods, caused by Cyclone Idai in early March 2019, where houses were destroyed, water supply systems damaged, hydrological monitoring stations malfunctioned, among others, are a great example of collaboration and leveraging expertise that exists within the sector," said Toulmin.

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