Water for People dresses Mudi Catchment Area with trees

Dwight Kambuku planting his tree

* Trees are one of the most important aspects if we are to have clean and sustainable water

* When planted in the right place, trees provide multiple benefits to people

By Tikondane Vega, MANA

Water for People, in collaboration with stakeholders, on Saturday planted trees around Mudi Catchment Area in Blantyre to make it a healthy watershed for Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to increase water levels on its reservoir dam that is earmarked for rehabilitation through the implementation of Malawi Water & Sanitation Project (MWSP).


The trees were planted under Blantyre-Mulanje Water Fund, a deliberate source of fund established by the organisation and other partners, to resource finance for water sustainability.

At the tree planting exercise, the fund steering committee chairperson, Dwight Kambuku said they decided to plant trees in Mudi Catchment to protect water supply in the district.

“Trees are one of the most important aspects if we are to have clean and sustainable water,” he told the media. “When planted in the right place, trees provide multiple benefits to people.

“It plays a critical role in capturing rainwater and reducing the risk of natural disasters such as floods. The catchment protection and restoration helps control siltation in Mudi Dam, thereby reducing the cost of purifying water for a 10th of the city’s population.”

Kambuku, who is also Chief Executive Officer for National Water Resources Authority (NWRA), added that the restoration of Mudi River has potential to reduce water tariffs since BWB’s production costs will be lower due to good quality of water.

Water for People Director of Influence & Scale, Kate Harawa said all trees that have been planted are indigenous in nature that can inhabit the environment without any human intervention.

Harawa expressed concern that lack of trees affects quantity and quality of water saying the trees planted swill ensure that water is available all the time to the public.

“This is the reason stakeholders are establishing Special Water Fund to ensure that there are resources for water sustainability by helping us come up with different interventions targeting concerned stakeholders such as the surrounding community,” she said.

BWB Director of Technical Services, Mavuto Chiipanthenga commended Water for People and other partners, saying such gesture has made Mudi catchment regain its lost glory.

Chiipanthenga said trees make water available all the time since they significantly increase water infiltration rate into soil and storage.

“When water is available the costs of treatment is always lower; that is why today we are saying our water production cost has slowly reduced. We ask other stakeholders to come and plant more trees,” he said.


At an engagement with faith leaders to enlighten them on progress and its benefits MWSP, Chiipanthenga announced that so far 40% of trees have been replenished on Mudi Catchment Area, which suffered massive deforestation and there are plans to identify financiers to cover the remaining 60% — thus he applauded Water for People for their intervention.

He also disclosed that every forestry season they replenished over 1,300 trees of the 890 hectares of the watershed and at the launch of the planting season last month Deputy Minister of Water & Sanitation, Liana Kakhobwe Chapota emphasised that restoration of the country’s green cover needs the support from every citizen.

She also recognised the presence of traditional chiefs, led by Senior Chief Kapeni, for being part of the delegation to launch BWB’s tree planting season, who had asked his fellow chiefs to be responsible in sensitising their charges from encroaching into Mudi Catchment Area to cultivate crops and also to be vigilant by alerting BWB whenever they discover anyone stealing the trees that have been restored in the past few years.

Senior Chief Kapeni observed that Mudi Catchment Area is being restored back to its past glory and further encouraged people sorrounding the area to continue respecting the important role it plays as a watershed for BWB’s supply of water to its customers.

Thus, the deputy Minister acknowledged the Senior Chief’s sentiments as very important for the sustainable water resource for the next generation, emphasising the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy last year, should serve as a lesson that it is vital to conserve and protect the environment, whose deforestation has led to climate change that is bringing many challenges to the weather patterns.

The Minister planting her tree

Youngest participant at the tree planting exercise

She also implored on the youths to be part of the conservation and protection of the environment and applauded BWB for involving schools that are neighbouring Mudi Catchment Area — Our Lady of Wisdom; Chichiri Secondary, Ndirande Hill Secondary; St. Kizito Primary; Makhetha Primary and also Ndirande Youth Group.

Soon after multiparty was embraced in the country, members of Ndirande communities encroached on Mudi Catchment Area, cutting down trees to create spaces for cultivation despite BWB’s warnings not to do so until a few years ago when the company strictly enforced the law.

Many efforts were done to replace the trees with support from stakeholders and have reaped fruits as there some beautiful green cover.

BWB’s chairperson, Joe Ching’ani described their annual forestry season as solid trademark of BWB’s belief in conservation and protection of the environment as the catchment area is one important asset of providing water to the communities.

Chairperson Ching’ani

He impressed on the youths that forest cover has many benefits such as prevention of soil erosion, evaporation, land degradation and providing healthy watersheds for farming communities.

In its 18th edition of the Malawi Economic Monitor, the World Bank alerts that rapid conversion of land for agriculture and widespread deforestation for wood are proceeding at an alarming rate as forest cover has declined from 47% in 1975 to just over 20% in 2021.

The report, presented to key stakeholders that included government officials on February 27, takes note that human activities of deforestation, coupled with forest deterioration and the loss of trees on farms, significantly contributes to land and water degradation.

“In 2017, ‘hotspots’ of degradation, where multiple indicators of degradation converge, covered over 40% of the country,” said the publication. “Currently, approximately 75% of Malawi’s soils are degraded or are threatened by degradation.

“This degradation has a cascading effect on the quality and quantity of water resources. Runoff from degraded landscapes carries soils and agrochemicals, polluting watercourses and wetlands.

“This can lead to the loss of soil fertility and diminishes the overall capacity of watersheds to protect, conserve, and nurture embedded natural resources.”—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express