The Department of Water Resources with support from the M-Climes project funded by UNDP will construct 22 new data collection platforms (DCP) to help control floods in the country.
The project is part of an expansion of the Operation Decision Support System (ODSS) to central and northern catchment areas that control water levels in rivers and forecasts floods.
With funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the M-Climes project is working with communities in food-insecure districts to scale up the use of modernised climate information and early warning systems aimed at reducing the effects of climate change.
Speaking during a field visit at Kamuzu barrage Hydrological Monitoring Station in Liwonde on Thursday where one of the DCPs is installed, UNDP-M-Climes knowledge management and monitoring and evaluation specialist, Ted Nyekanyeka said the system plays a crucial role in controlling water levels in, for example, Shire River and forecasting floods.
Nyekanyeka said the DCP is also important because the collected data directly feeds into the ODSS which is able to forecast floods downstream, adding that other stakeholders such as water boards and irrigation schemes also rely on the data generated from the DCP for their various projects.
"The sensors planted in Shire River and the manual readers for river levels installed at the DCP play a huge role in forecasting and controlling floods.
"The DCP also informs infrastructural development that is linked to water levels," said Nyekanyeka.
However, he said that the ODSS being used at the DCP in Liwonde came in because of the Shire River Basin Management Project which covers only the Southern Region and, therefore, M-Climes seeks to extend the catchment areas specifically to the Central and Northern regions.
"M-Climes is supporting DWR, more especially in ensuring that the ODSS is fully functional and is able to forecast floods across the country in times when we receive heavy rains because our aim is to warn people and save lives."
On his part, DWR senior water resources development officer, Rodrick Kunkwenzu said that the M-Climes support is timely as it will upscale the use of the ODSS in all the regions across the country.
Kunkwenzu added that the ODSS linked to the DCP in Liwonde is not yet fully functional due to some technical challenges but with the assistance from M-Climes they hope that the system will start operating accurately before the rains start and more early warning alerts will be disseminated across the country.
The project will run for six years.