SVTP infrastructure escapes Cyclone Freddy’s devastating effects

The hope farmers in the Shire Valley had at the beginning of this growing season has once again been shattered following days of heavy rains and flooding from Cyclone Freddy, which has hit many southern region districts in Malawi. 

The Cyclone, which has been deemed the longest-lasting storm (most accumulated cyclone energy) on world record, has claimed the lives of at least 190 people and affected infrastructure like roads, houses including irrigation schemes in the affected districts following its landfall in the country on 13th March 2023 through the Shire Valley district of Nsanje. There are fears that families in the affected communities will face hunger and poverty will rise as most people have lost their property. The President of the Republic of Malawi, Dr Lazarus Chakwera, declared a State of Emergency. 

Luckily, the Cyclone has not affected the infrastructure under the SVTP.  

“We are glad our infrastructure has been spared from disastrous effects of Cyclone Freddy. Cyclones Ana and Gombe brought a huge setback to our works especially the intake which was affected delaying our implementation,” said Engineer Martin Chizalema, Irrigation Engineer at the SVTP.  

The situation differs from that with Cyclones Ana and Gombe in 2022, which affected the SVTP intake works at Kapichira Dam. By the time of Cyclone Freddy, the Programme was constructing a Cement-Soil Cofferdam at Kapichira, which will assist during the construction of the new intake and also assist EGENCO in generating electricity to the total capacity.  

Once the Shire Valley Irrigation Scheme becomes operational, it will cushion farmers in Chikwawa and Nsanje Districts against the harsh effects of natural disasters like Cyclones as they can cultivate crops for commercial production and food at least twice a year.