Floods destroy 250 hectares of crops in Nkhata Bay; Karonga traders incur losses amid heavy rains

* Continuous heavy rainfall led to flooding of Linga Dam affecting crops at Linga Irrigation Scheme and some surrounding areas

* Water has overflowed to our place of business and some structures have collapsed as they are now submerged in water

By Chisomo Kambandanga & George Mponda, MANA

District Commissioner for Nkhata Bay, Rodgers Newa disclosed that over 250 hectares of crops have been washed away by floods in the area of Senior Chief Fukamapiri in the district.


And in Karonga, business people who ply their trade on the shores of Lake Malawi ay they are making losses due to swelling of the lake which is affecting their businesses.

In Nkhata Bay, Newa said the floods, caused by heavy downpour over the past weeks, have also left some families homeless, saying during a monitoring visit to the affected areas to appreciate the extent of the damage, the district is urgently looking into measures to assist the affected households.

“Over the past weeks we have been receiving continuous heavy rainfall which led to flooding of Linga Dam affecting crops at Linga Irrigation Scheme and some surrounding areas.

“Assessment of the damage is still underway but preliminary assessment from our agriculture office indicates that over 250 hectares of crop land of immature maize, cassava, bananas and rice have been washed away, posing fear of hunger to affected communities.”

He added that the Council is working on short term plans to make sure that food and shelter is available to the affected households and also devising long term plans like helping farmers to replant some of the crops that may still do better in the remaining time of this year’s growing season.

“We are further advising them to make good use of waters in the dam for irrigation in the dry season and also urging them to practice farming systems that promote minimum soil disturbance to protect their crops from being washed away by floods,” he said.

Senior irrigation engineer for Nkhata Bay, Edward Mjiku said the blockage of the river course by branches of trees and grass at Linga Dam also contributed to the flooding.

One of the affected farmers, Green Banda, said his family will be rendered food insecure as the floods washed away a huge chunk of his three-acres field.

According to Nkhata Bay’s senior assistant meteorologist, Amos Chimbwira, there is a possibility for the district to continue receiving heavy rainfall as the country draws towards the end of 2023/2024 rainfall season.

In Karonga, one of the affected businessman, Paul Ndhlovu, who operates Blue Beach Bar — a popular spot located along the lake — said water has overflowed blocking roads leading to the place and causing damage to infrastructure.

“The situation has worsened eversince heavy rains started falling in the district in March,” Ndhlovu said. “Water has overflowed to our place of business and some structures have collapsed as they are now submerged in water.

“In the dry season, we used to receive a lot of customers but now as few as 20 people are coming to our establishment because all roads which lead here have been blocked.”

A fisherman, Victor Nhyasulu complained that continuous heavy rains are making it hard for them to go for fishing expeditions on the lake, saying “this has led to a rise in fish prices since the supply is low.

“Heavy rains have also increased post harvest loss because some fish stalls have been submerged in water making storage of fish very difficult and we are making losses,” Nhyasulu said.

Victor Nhyasulu

Karonga District Council’s acting fisheries officer, Patrick Moyo echoed Nhyasulu’s sentiments, saying most landing sites have no shelters or store rooms where business people can keep their processed fish.

“Lack of proper shelters or store rooms increases the rate at which processed fish is attacked by molds and produces bad odor which eventually lead to low prices or the fish is thrown away altogether.

“This time, we are happy that the Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture Development and Watershed Management (SFAD-WM) project is constructing landing facilities in areas where active fishing is done like Kaporo, Chipamira, Ngala and Chilumba,” Moyo said.

According to a memo released by the National Water Resources Authority, as of March 11, during the 2023/2024 hydrological year, Lake Malawi water level is at 475.95 meters above sea level (masl).

Last year it was at 475.12 masl on the same date representing an 83 centimetres increase in water levels.

“Lake Malawi waters reach peak between the months of April and May each year and this hydrological  year, the lake levels have taken the highest trajectory since 2010,” reads the memo. “The increase has been attributed to increased rains in the Northern Region of Malawi and Tanzanian side which constitute the main catchment area of Lake Malawi.