Dziwe irrigation scheme
Malawi’s economy relies mostly on agriculture. Over 90% of Malawians depend on farming which relies on rainfall. Maize is the staple food crop in the country. With a population of 13 million people, Malawi needs to serious check the food insecurity by introducing alternatives to food production to enhance food security at household level.
Due to erratic rainfall patterns, the country always suffer adverse effects from food insecurity, hence the only way to alleviate this situation is by engaging the farmers in irrigation farming. The development of irrigation schemes will increase production cycle of not less than three times a year. This will result in continuous availability of food and cash to the villagers and improve their livelihoods.
It is due to the above reason that Mai Aisha Trust supports community-based initiatives aimed at increasing agricultural productivity and the improvement of socio-economic status to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger as per the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
In 2007, Mai Aisha Trust embarked on promoting sustainable agriculture by providing financial support to small scale irrigation farming to the rural communities. From 2007 to 2012, four small scale irrigation schemes were constructed and are fully operational. These are Mandimwi, Mpenga, Dziwe and Mtemaumo. Of the four sites, three are gravity-fed while one uses a motorized pump.
In July 2010 Mai Aisha Trust responded to the need of a community in Dziwe, Traditional Authority Kunthembwe in Blantyre west, for an initiative to embark on irrigation farming with the aim of eradicating extreme poverty by increasing food crop productivity through small scale irrigation farming, using the available water source, a perennial river, that passes through their village. Unlike other irrigation sites, Dziwe was a possibility of exploration by the community themselves, in collaboration with Mai Aisha Trust. It was after this exploration that the Irrigation services Division (ISD) was consulted for technical expertise and development of the scheme.
Another distinctive feature about Dziwe is that it operates on a motorized pump, as opposed to other sites that are gravity-fed. Dziwe is generally a hunger stricken area due to effects of climate change, generally malpractices of wantonly cutting down of trees to burn charcoal for economic survival.
The establishment of the irrigation scheme is a measure to reduce the effect of hunger by increasing crop productivity where farmers grow crops a minimum of two time a year.
Irrigation farming is the only way out for the local communities to address food shortage.
The work commenced in October 2010 financial support from Mai Aisha Trust. The project has been in operation since 2011.
The scheme enables most households to have adequate food as well as surplus to sell so as to improve their wellbeing.
More than ten households benefitted from the scheme with farmers growing crops such as maize and tomatoes.