Committee members interacting with project staff on site

Chiefs looked in awe as machines moved to and from the construction site.ย  Men and women clad in work suits could be seen busy excavating the site and constructing drainage works, evidence that the construction of the much-awaited Shire Valley Irrigation Scheme has commenced.ย  To these chiefs, a long-time tale of the construction of the irrigation scheme in the Shire Valley had materialized.

The SVTP engaged the Chikwawa District Consultative Committee with an aim of sharing progress of the Programme and challenges to be addressed with support from the District.ย  The Committee comprises of representatives of the District Council including councilors, stakeholders at district level including the private sector, police, representatives of NGOs and traditional leaders.ย  The District Executive Committee is the Secretariat of the Consultative Committee.

Specialists from the Programme made presentations on progress under different components and challenges faced by the Programme.ย  Committee members had an opportunity to ask questions and solicit responses from the specialists and the representative of the contractor.

Members also toured the construction site to appreciate progress.ย  Speaking during the visit, Senior Chief Ngabu who represented the Chairperson of the Committee Paramount Chief Lundu, expressed satisfaction with the developments on the ground.

โ€œAs traditional leaders we will engage our communities to instill in them the spirit of ownership of this project. This will help people to guard the resources on site jealously.ย  For example, they will be able to report any suspicious activities like theft of materials from the site.ย  We have agreed to form a taskforce to look at issues of security of materials so that the project does not stop due to lack of materials.ย  We will also engage our communities to avoid cutting down of trees as this has potential to cause siltation of the canal in future,โ€ he said.

Chairperson of the Chikwawa District Council, Councilor Gerald Bede echoed comments made by Senior Chief Ngabu.

โ€œComing to witness the development on the ground today, has given me hope that farmers in this district are going to be transformed indeed.ย  As a Council, we will provide support both to the contractor and the project team to ensure smooth implementation of the project. This is our project,โ€ he said. The Programme regularly engages the District Consultative Committee however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic physical meetings have been put on hold until the situation improves.