Shire

1. Description of Water Resource

2. Socioeconomic Issues

3. Institutional and Legal Framework

4. Transboundary Issues

Shire_Map.jpg

 

1. Description of Water Resource

1.1. Geographical Description

1.1.1. Location

The Shire River Catchment, which originates from Lake Malawi at Samama, has a catchment area of 18, 945km2. It flows approximately 410km south and south east where it meets the Zambezi River at Ziu Ziu in Mozambique. The catchment is divided into upper, middle and lower sections.

1.1.2. Riparian states

The Shire River Basin represents about 16 per cent of Malawi’s total geographical area and is shared with Mozambique. It is one of 13 sub-basins that comprise the Zambezi River Basin. The Shire River flows through part of Mozambique before joining the Zambezi River which flows into the Indian Ocean.

  Figure2_Shire.jpg

Figure 2: Map showing the riparian states

1.1.3. Topography

Topographically the Shire is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle and Lower.  The Upper Shire River flows from the lake outlet at Samama to Matope, including Lake Malombe. The Upper Shire has a very low gradient of 0.12 m per km. The section from Mangochi to Liwonde is almost flat and has a channel bed drop of 1.5m over a distance of about 87km. Tributaries to the upper catchment are highly seasonal and prone to flashflooding. The limited flow and flat gradient lead to a meandering river, forming a network of pools and channels.

The Middle Shire stretches from the Kholombidzo Falls at Matope, through several waterfalls, to Kapichira, a distance of about 80km. The gradient in this part of the river is relatively high at 3.6 m per km. This stretch is characterised by steep topography on either side of the gorges around the river and is marked by outcrops and rock bars from Matope to as far as Chikwawa. The Middle Shire has high hydropower potential owing to a total fall of 370m through a series of rapids and cascades. Two of these falls, Nkula Falls and Tedzani Falls have been utilised for hydropower generation.

Beginning at Kapichira, the Lower Shire has an elevation of 80m above sea level (a.s.l). The Lower Shire, which flows from Kapichira to the border with Mozambique, includes the Chikhwawa lagoons, Elephant Marsh, Bangula Lagoon, and Ndinde Marsh in Nsanje District (shared with Mozambique). It widens below Makhanga into a wide flat alluvial plain for a 140km stretch. This stretch of the Shire again has a low gradient at 0.22 m per km. This gradient continues in Mozambique to the confluence with the Zambezi. The Lower Shire can effectively be divided into two sections – upper and lower. The upper Lower Shire, 80km long, is occupied by the Elephant Marsh and flows fairly gently, dropping to 45m a.s.l at Chiromo. The lower portion of Lower Shire is 120km long, stretching from Chiromo to the confluence with the Zambezi River. At this section the river is 30m a.s.l.

1.1.4. Hydrological description

The Shire River Basin is traversed by a dense network of river systems, both large and small. The  major ones are the Nkasi, the Rivi Rivi, Lisungwi, Wankulumadzi, Likabula, Mwanza, Mwamphanzi, Thangadzi East, and Thangadzi West, some of which have been exploited for irrigation, particularly in the lower reach of the basin.

The Shire River is characterised by small stream density and ephemeral rivulets from its source at Samama to Liwonde, in part because of the gentle gradient and highly permeable soils. About 5km upstream of Kamuzu Barrage, Likwenu River joins the Shire River. The Likwenu is perennial as it flows in a high rainfall region. The river is flood prone in the rainy season and the floods cause significant crop loss and damage to property, particularly in sections of gentle slope.

Many rivers drain from the Kirk Ranges and Shire highlands in the Middle Shire, contributing to increased stream density. The major rivers that flow through the Middle Shire are: Rivi-Rivi, Lisungwi and Wankulumadzi. These all drain from the Ntcheu, Balaka, Neno and Mwanza districts. Numerous rivers flow into the eastern section of the basin, originating from the Zomba Massif and flowing into Lake Chilwa to the east or into the Shire River to the west.

The Lower Shire is distinct in the climate that it experiences and is a flat plain drained by numerous rivers and streams that originate from Thambani Hills, the Marangwe Range, the Matundwe Range to the west and the Salambidwe Hill. The large drainage system of the Mwanza River forms from the southern slopes of Mount Xalaxacongue in Mozambique. It widens into a series of swamps and marshes before converging again at Tomali, at which point it merges with the Shire River, east of the Sande Market Centre. The rivers that flow into the Lower Shire River on the right bank include the Nkombedzi-waFodya, Chidyamanga, Lalanje, and Thangazi West. The rivers to the east and on the left bank of the Shire River include Mwampanzi, Maperera, Masekesa, Livunzu and Thangadzi. Another major river further south is the Ruo River, which flows from the Mulanje Mountant and into the Shire River at Chiromo.

1.1.5. Rainfall

Precipitation in the Shire Basin is characterized by torrential downpours of high intensities. The zone is occasionally traversed by residual tropical cyclones, which often cause land/mudslides over the highlands of the catchments of the upper Shire River. Over the last two decades, the Basin has experienced significant changes in weather patterns. The basin experienced severe droughts in 1991/92; 1993/94 and 1994/95. In addition, the basin is prone to extreme flooding events, such as the severe flash flooding of 2002/1

 

 

Driest years in the Shire River Basin for the Period 1960 – 2009

Driest year

1991 – 92

Second Driest Year

1994 – 95

Third Driest Year

1993 – 94

 

Figure3_Shire.jpg 

Figure 3: Shire Basin Average annual precipitation

The basin is vulnerable to climate variability and scientific evidence points to a shift in the basin’s climate. There is a trend towards more intense droughts, longer and staggered timings of dry spells during rainy seasons, heavy downpours followed by flooding, unpredictable rainfall patterns, and a rise in mean temperature.

The predominant climate in the basin is that of the tropical savannah, with distinct wet and dry seasons. Peak rainfall takes place between December and March and at times exceeds 1,000mm/ annum in the high escarpment. Mean annual rainfall in the Shire River basin is 903.7mm[1].

Table 1: Mean Monthly Annual Rainfall for Some Stations in the Shire River Basin

Mean Monthly Annual Rainfall for Some Stations in the Shire River Basin[2]

 

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Ann

Station:

(mm)

Liwonde

5.7

0.6

1.0

19.9

60.6

165

199

192

160

37.0

14.1

4.1

859

Nsanje

20.0

6.2

6.8

59.8

83.1

193

202

168

156

52.8

19.0

21.3

988

Mulanje

47.1

29.5

41.3

163

129

283

262

245

302

210

59.2

46.3

1817

 

1.1.6. Runoff

The estimated mean annual runoff for the Shire River Catchment is 1,853m3, with a co-efficient of variation of 0.40. Runoff rises sharply between December and January, peaking on average in February – March, and falls steadily from April to November. During peak flooding, mean monthly runoff is approximately 800m3/s and maximum annual flows range between 1000 and 1800m3/s.

Tributary runoff from Matopa in the Middle Shire River contributes to peak flooding in the Shire, normally in February and March, following peak rainfall. Average annual rainfall in the Lower Shire River is 483m3 and at high lake levels, outflow to the lower Shire remains largely unaffected.  In the dry season, minimum discharge can fall to between 64 and 765m3 in October and November.

Table 2: Shire River Catchment Mean Annual Rainfall and Runoff

Shire River Catchment Mean Annual Rainfall and Runoff

Catchment Area

18,945 km2

Rainfall mm

903.7

Runoff (mm)

137 mm

Runoff (M3/s)

82

Percentage Runoff

15.2

1.1.7. Groundwater

The dominant water supply source for rural areas in the Shire River Basin is groundwater. The dominant aquifer type is the low yielding, although extensive, weathered basement aquifer in the plateau areas.  Average yields range between 1-2 litres per second in the weathered zone of the basement complex.  In addition there is the high yielding alluvial aquifer of the lakeshore plains and the Lower Shire Valley, where yields of as much as 20 litres per second have been attained.

The hydrogeology of Shire River Basin (WRA 1) consists of a number of different aquifer types, which are listed in the table below.

Table 3: Shire River Basin (WRA 1), aquifer type overview (Government of Malawi, 2011:93)

Figure_4.jpg

With regards to the total potential abstractable yield assessment volume per aquifer type, the resultant values for Shire River Basin (WRA 1) are shown in Table 4 below.

Table 4: Shire River Basin (WRA 1), Total potential abstractable volume per aquifer type (Government of Malawi, 2011:96)

Table4_Shire.jpg

 The total sustainable abstractable yield assessment resultant values for Shire River Basin (WRA 1) are shown in Figure 5 below with climate change adjustment factors for the forecast values in 2020 and 2035.

Figure5.jpg

Figure 5: Shire River Basin, Total abstractable groundwater volume (Government of Malawi, 2011:97)

Based on a ’fitness for purpose’ assessment conducted by the Government of Malawi in 2011, groundwater is available for most uses except large-scale arable agriculture in the FB and WB aquifer areas and commercial and mining purposes in the WB aquifer areas of the Shire River Basin.

Table 5: Shire River Basin groundwater “fitness for purpose” assessment (Government of Malawi, 2011:99)

Table5_Shire.jpg


1.1.8. Water quality issues

Pollution of surface and groundwater is an issue of growing concern. There is a trend towards water quality degradation owing to the discharge of untreated effluent from domestic and industrial waste, and inadequate waste management in the upper Shire Basin. The basin faces increased siltation, sedimentation, agrochemicals, and general and point source pollution.

Effluent discharge into the Shire is primarily a concern around urban areas such as Blantyre. With increasing population pressure and growing industrialisation, the increasing disposal of effluent will increasingly impact negatively on water quality. The Lower Shire Valley, in particular, is prone to groundwater with high levels of chloride, causing boreholes to be abandoned.

The increased use of agrochemicals to improve productivity has a negative bearing on the water quality of the basin. A large portion of the residents of the catchment area are engaged in farming for livelihood purposes and as the fertility of agricultural land diminishes, so the use of fertilisers is likely to increase.

Deforestation and soil erosion play a large part in increasing silt loads in the catchment area. This contributes to deteriorating water quality downstream with implications for water treatment costs and diminishing drinking water supply for households residing in rural areas. There is also a significant problem regarding water weed infestation in the river.

1.1.9. Water use 

As illustrated in the following table, agriculture is by far the biggest user of water in the Shire River Basin at 749m3/d (79% of demand) of which 20m3/d is used for livestock. Total water demand is 944m3/d. Domestic use accounts for 126Ml/d (13%), while industrial use makes up 29 Ml/d (3%). The Blantyre urban region utilises 7% of the water in the Shire Basin.

Actors in the agricultural sector include[3]:

(1)    Private Estates: These are joint ventures between the Government and local and foreign investors.

(2)    Government-run Smallholder Schemes: These were established by the Government to give local farmers access to irrigation opportunities, with the state subsidising the cost of water and farmers paying no fee.

(3)    Self-help Smallholder Schemes: These are also conceptualised by the government with full participation of farmers.

Of these, the estates and commercial farming operations utilise the most water for irrigation purposes. Smallholder farmers rely mostly on rain-fed agriculture.

Table 6: Shire River Basin Water Demand Estimate 2010 (Annual Average Values)

 

Shire River Basin Water Demand Estimate 2010 (Annual Average Values)

Sector

Sub-Sector

Demand (Ml/d)

Demand (%)

Domestic

Piped into dwelling

14

1

Domestic

Piped into yard/ plot

8

1

Domestic

Community stand pipe

31

3

Domestic

Protected well/ BH

64

7

Domestic

Unimproved source

23

2

Agriculture

Arable

729

77

Agriculture

Livestock

20

2

Commercial

 

20

2

Institutional

 

8

1

Mining

 

1

0,1

Unaccounted for

 

27

3

Usable Return

To surface water

187

 

Usable returns

To groundwater

0

 

TOTAL (gross)

 

1131

 

TOTAL (net)

 

944

 

 

Domestic water use that is piped to dwellings, yards or standpipes comprises 53 m3/d. The majority of residents (85%) of the basin in urban areas, such as Blantyre, have access to potable water. The vast majority (55%) of those residing in rural areas do not, however. With increased urbanisation, there is increased pressure on water resources for domestic consumption.

Estimates of water demand for 2020 and 2035 for various growth scenarios for the entire basin and for Blantyre City is provided below:

Table 7: Water Demand Estimates for Shire River Basin (Wet and Dry Season), 2020 and 2035

Water Demand Estimates for Shire River Basin (Wet and Dry Season), 2020 and 2035

 

 

Total Demand in 2020 (Ml/d)

Total Demand in 2035 (Ml/d)

Scenario

Total Demand in 2010 (Ml/d)

Low Growth Scenario

Medium Growth Scenario

High Growth Scenario

Medium Growth Scenario

Annual Avg

944

1397

1882

3128

3390

Dry Season

1075

1794

2707

4995

5256

Wet Season

813

1000

1057

1262

1524

Extreme Drought

1075

1794

2707

4995

5256

 

Table 8: Water Demand Estimate for Blantyre City (Wet and Dry Season), 2020 and 2035

Water Demand Estimate for Blantyre City (Wet and Dry Season), 2020 and 2035

 

 

Total Demand in 2020 (Ml/d)

Total Demand in 2035 (Ml/d)

Scenario

Total Demand in 2010 (Ml/d)

Low Growth Scenario

Medium Growth Scenario

High Growth Scenario

Medium Growth Scenario

Shire Basin Avg

944

1397

1882

3128

3390

% to total

7%

7%

6%

5%

7%

Annual Avg

65

96

117

150

248

Dry Season

64

95

116

150

246

Wet Season

65

98

120

154

258

Extreme Drought

64

95

116

150

246

 

Malawi has a number of hydropower plants. Of these the Shire River Basin’s hydropower plants account for 98% of Malawi’s energy production. Hydropower plants in the basin include: Nkula Falls, with a capacity of 124 MW; Tedzani (90 MW) and Kapichira (64 MW). There are plans to double Kapichira’s capacity to 128MW and a new hydropower plant with a 180 MW capacity is planned at Kholombidzo. A summary of current hydro power capacity is provided below:

Table 9: Existing Hydropower Projects and Reservoirs in the Shire River Basin

Existing Hydropower Projects and Reservoirs in the Shire River Basin

Name

Type

Capacity (MW)

Nkula Falls A&B                            

Run-of-river

124

Tedzani

Run-of-river

90

Kapichira Stage I

Run-of-river

64

Total Capacity

 

278

 

 Figure 6: Map of Zambezi Basin Hydropower Facilities Including Shire River Basin Facilities

Figure6_Shire.jpg

 

 Figure 7: Shire River Longitudinal Profile

 Figure8_Shire.jpg

2. Socioeconomic Issues

2.1. Demographics

The population in the Shire River Basin is approximately 3,326, 553 (2010 estimates). Blantyre’s population, at just over 715,000, is 20% of the catchment’s population. The next largest district, Chikwawa, has a population of 460,044. Population density ranges from 73 to 3,231 people per square kilometre in Blantyre. The Upper Shire is more densely populated with 70-160 people per square kilometre, while the Lower Shire is less dense with a range of 50-70 people per square kilometre. The trend over time is towards an increasing population in the basin.

Figure 8: Shire River/ Lake Malawi Sub-basin Characteristics (Source: The Zambezi Water Information System[4])

Figure7_Shire.jpg

Table 10: Population Size by District

Population Size By District

 

District

Popuation (2010)

Population Density (per km2)

Balaka

338, 089

158

Blantyre Rural

347,541

200

Blantyre City

715,077

3,231

Chikwawa

460,044

94

Chiradzulu

34,925

401

Machinga

167,876

128

Mangochi

222,107

126

Mwanza

99,048

133

Neno

114,362

73

Nsanje

244,701

128

Ntcheu

273,165

157

Thyolo

190,911

380

Zomba Rural

118,706

200

TOTAL

3,326,553

 

 

2.2. Income and occupations

The Shire River Basin economy is agro-based, with 90% of the population in rural parts of the basin dependent on agricultural activities for income. The largest portion of agricultural activity is smallholder farming, except for a handful of large commercial agriculture estates. Farmers participate in both livestock rearing and crop production. Fisheries is also an important contributor to the economy and an important source of protein.

Tourism is another economic sector that contributes to employment. Small scale entrepreneurship in the form of retail outlets is an economic activity that people residing in the basin participate in. To a smaller extent, transportation, the energy sector and public sector engagement are other forms of employment in the basin.

Average per capita daily income for the basin, at USD0.83 (MK139) is below the poverty line. Against $1/day as a standard, 50% percent of the population in the basin would be considered poor, with 15% designated as ultra-poor[5].

Table 11: Monthly Household Income by District in the River Basin

Monthly Household Income by District in the River Basin

District

Malawi Kwacha

USD

Mangochi

                36 831

0,61

Machinga

                39 679

0,66

Balaka

                27 269

0,45

Zomba Rural

                32 359

0,54

Blantyre Rural

                42 530

0,71

Thyolo

                26 593

0,44

Mwanza

                16 091

0,27

Chikhwawa

                24 125

0,40

Nsanje

                45 136

0,75

 

2.3. Economic sectors active in the sub-basin

The Shire River is of great importance economically and environmentally, with hydroelectric schemes generating 98% of Malawi’s electricity, extensive fisheries and wildlife conservation areas and provision of freshwater irrigation to cash crop plantations, industrial and domestic use. It has been described as the development engine of Malawi’s economic growth.

The Shire River basin is of particular importance due to the reliance on agricultural production and livelihoods of the surrounding population, the majority of whom live in extreme poverty. The river basin is characterised by a rural economy consisting of small-scale subsistence, rain-fed farming – with the predominate crop being rain-fed maize in the summer and irrigated maize in the winter. Around 78% of households in the basin are involved in farming. The majority of the main commercial agricultural activity is concentrated within the basin (tobacco, sugar and tea). A summary of the total area in the catchment area farmed by crop is below:

Table 12: Total areas farmed in the Shire River Basement, units in ha

Total areas farmed in the Shire River Basement, units in ha

 

Summer

Estate

Winter

Maize

302,904

709

34,045

Rice

10,099

-

385

Tobacco

6,603

-

-

Cotton

35,981

190

-

Wheat

2

-

942

Coffee

-

150

-

Sugar

1,750

13,800

-

 

2.4. Development Potential

The potential for development in the Shire River Basin is focused on (1) irrigation development, (2) energy development, and (3) the Shire Zambezi Waterway Development Project.

(1)    Irrigation interventions with an eye to alleviate poverty and improve the livelihoods of small and medium scale farmers have been planned under the Shire River Basin Management Plan. The four targeted districts are: Zomba, Neno, Blantyre and Ntcheu.

(2)    Plans are underway to implement energy production at a small to medium scale through the use of water hyacinth as a raw material.

(3)    The Shire Zambezi Waterway Development project will increase the navigability of the Shire all the way to the Indian Ocean via Mozambique. The infrastructure project will unlock water transport for the landlocked country.

Within Malawi,  World Bank-funded Shire River Basin Management Program (SRBMP Phase I) was initiated in 2012 with the objectives of developing a strategic planning and development framework for the Basin and to support targeted investments aimed at improved land and water management and the associated environmental services and livelihoods within the Basin in Malawi.  The three major components of this work include: (1) catchment management planning; (2) Basin-wide management planning; and (3) support for key water-related infrastructure.   The SRBMP is an integrated, multi-sectoral program that is supported by multiple ministries in Malawi.  It is expected that the program will run through 2018 and beyond.   

3. Institutional and Legal Framework

3.1. Legal and Institutional Framework

In 2013, Malawi passed the National Water Resources Act to bring its national water law into alignment with its water policies and to reform its institutional frameworks to better enable integrated water resources management throughout the country.  Article 141 of the Act enables the Minister to establish bodies to implement international or regional agreements related to the management and development of water resources, although there are no specific functions outlined in the national legislation with respect to these bodies.

The Act also provides several mechanisms for the establishment of new institutions at the domestic level for water management.  Pursuant to advice provided to the Government of Malawi by the SRBMP, the Government determined that the Shire Basin required a specific institutional mechanisms to undertake integrated planning and oversight of management within the Basin.  A functional analysis of a basin institution was performed and it was determined that the most effective legal mechanism under the existing framework for establishing such an institution would be pursuant to Section 11 of the Act as a Committee of the National Water Resource Authority (NWRA). 

The NWRA was established by the 2013 Act as the overarching management entity for water resource management in Malawi.  It is granted broad authority under the Act and is empowered to:

  • Develop principles, guidelines and procedures for allocation of water resources;
  • Monitor and assess the National Water Policy and National Water Resources Master Plan;
  • Receive and determine applications for permits for water use and monitor and enforce the conditions of those permits;
  • Regulate water quality;
  • Manage and protect catchments;
  • Determine water use charges;
  • Gather, maintain, and publish information on water resources;
  • Work with stakeholders to improve water regulation and management;
  • Advise the Minister on water resources-related matters;
  • Prepare, implement and amend a Water Action Plan;
  • Review relevant legislation and advise on amendments;
  • Prosecute offenses under the Act;
  • Establish committees and regional offices;
  • Any other authority delegated under §15 of the Act.

While the NWRA was established when the Act entered into force in 2013, it is still in the process of being operationalized.

In determining how to set up a Shire Basin Agency, it was necessary to consider the level of independence that such an Agency would have, in order to represent the needs and values of the Basin, while still adhering to national policy and planning guidelines.  It was also clear that a Basin Agency needed to be able to: oversee basin-level planning; coordinate among users in the Basin; facilitate stakeholder engagement in Basin decision-making; coordinate among various levels of government with relevant authority in the Basin; oversee conflict resolution among Basin stakeholders; promote protection of the Basin ecosystem; provide advice to the NWRA and other relevant agencies; collect, manage and disseminate data and information on the Basin; build capacity of Basin stakeholders on issues of integrated water resource management (IWRM); and undertake and disseminate Basin-relevant research. 

The options under the Act for establishing such an Agency included establishing as a regional body of the NWRA, establishing it as a Catchment Management Committee, or establishing it as a somewhat independent Section 11 Committee, with ongoing analysis of how to best address higher-level policy issues at the inter-Ministerial level.   The SRBMP consulted broadly with stakeholders on these options, and agreed to move forward with establishing an interim institution under the Act, while relying on consultants to monitor progress and evaluate the competencies and capacities of the Agency to ensure that future development is in line with basin-wide development goals.  

This ongoing monitoring and evaluation is particularly important in light of the transboundary nature of the Basin.  While the initial basin agency will function as a national unit, there will be a need eventually to determine how the agency will interact with the Department of Water Resources to engage on key transboundary issues (discussed in detail below).

4. Transboundary Issues

In addition to the Shire River Basin traversing both Malawi and Mozambique, the two countries also share the Shire Valley Alluvial Aquifer. The countries face a number of transboundary water management issues that need to be addressed in the joint management of the basin:

4.1. Watershed Degradation/Upper Catchment Degradation

Degradation in the upper catchment due to deforestation is leading to issues of siltation and water quality deterioration in the river.  This is resulting in increased erosion of the flood plain in the lower portion of the Basin, which has clear implications for flooding and water quality in both Malawi and Mozambique.  Indeed, the recent floods of January 2015 are the worst in recorded history and will further contribute to the degradation of the lower Basin. 

The water of the lower Basin is also used for municipal supplies and the increased sedimentation has placed increasing burdens on utilities to remove and limit sedimentation in their works and increase levels of treatment to meet water quality standards.  Improved methods for sediment load prediction must inform planning at both the national and transboundary levels in the Basin. 

4.2. Navigational Challenges

The proposed re-opening of the Shire - Zambezi Waterway for navigation to the Indian Ocean was initiated to contribute to the competitiveness of the economies of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia through the reduction of the cost of transportation.

Malawi, a landlocked country, was interested in the Shire-Zambezi Waterway as a means of linking the country to the sea through Mozambique. Malawi’s port – Nsanje, will be connected to the proposed Mozambique port of Chinde. Malawi undertook the construction of the port of Nsanje with Portuguese contract Mota Engil as the contractor. 

Figure 9: Shire Basin Riparian States

Figure2_Shire.jpg

Malawi attempted trial navigation of the Shire River to port Nsanje, sparking diplomatic tensions with Mozambique in 2010. This trial navigation was initiated without Mozambican approval and Mozambican authorities subsequently detained the barge that was making this inaugural voyage. Mozambique shared concerns that an adequate feasibility study and environmental impact assessment had not been undertaken and that as a result no barges could navigate Shire River waters until such time as these had been conducted. Malawi maintained that these had in fact been undertaken.

The incident was somewhat resolved in 2012 with African Development Bank NEPAD-Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (IPPF) and African Water Facility (AWF) backing and financial support to undertake the feasibility studies.The two year feasibility study is expected to conclude in 2015 and in the interim the agreement to conduct the feasibility study has resolved the trans-boundary dispute that had arisen between Mozambique and Malawi.

4.3. Joint Infrastructure Development

Through the establishment of the Shire River Basin Agency and the implementation of the Shire River Basement Plan, Malawi seeks to develop the planning framework that will form the basis of better management of the river basin, lay the foundations for investments in irrigation, hydropower and flood management. It will also see the establishment of a multi-sectoral Shire Basin institution to support long-term planning and management of the basin.

Current plans under the SRBMP include the rehabilitation of the Kamuzu Barrage, which regulates the flow levels of the Shire to support sustainable hydropower, irrigation and water supply.  Additional infratrsucture projects are under development.  Mozambique is also undertaking potential infrastructure developments in tributaries that form part of the basin. Both countries will need to establish more formal cooperation mechanisms to ensure that infrastructure development and management are provide shared benefits and protect the basin ecosystem, as well as prevent the emergence of political conflict.

Along the Ruo River, a tributary to the Shire, there have also been several feasibility studies undertaken to support the upgrading of existing hydropower infrastructure.

4.4. Flood Control and Mitigation

Because the region often experiences tropical cyclones that impact the catchments in the lower zones of the Shire River, both Malawi and Mozambique are flood prone. Cooperation around flood management and mitigation is an important consideration, especially given climate induced droughts and erratic rainfall.  For example, while warnings are provided form Malawi to Mozambique and cooperation takes place on a technical basis, it is currently ad hoc.  There are no formal, cross-border early warning systems or relevant information sharing measures in place with regards to flood management.

Malawi is currently drafting a disaster preparedness strategy in response to the severe floods of January 2015.  Mozambique has a flood plan in place, but a lack of coordination between the countries has hindered more effective response and management.

4.5. Transboundary allocation of water resources and shared benefits (including fisheries)

The shared allocation of water resources and fisheries resources are of great importance to both countries. There are head water tributaries that flow from Mozambique into the Malawi portion of the Shire River Basin as well as the Zambezi River Basin. The Shire River then flows through Malawi into Mozambique. Any activity upstream in Mozambique or in Malawi has an impact on each of the countries, as well as the riparian SADC countries that form part of the Zambezi River Basin.

Given that the Shire River system is a sub-basin of the Zambezi watercourse, Malawi is participating in the on-going negotiations for the operationalization of the ZAMCOM.  However, due to the fact that Malawi has not yet ratified the ZAMCOM Agreement,  their participation is limited to observer status. 

Within the SADC region, Malawi is also part of other initiatives such as the SIDA initiative and the FAO-supported Convention on the Management of Lake Malawi/Nyasa for Sustainable Development.  At a bilateral level, Malawi is negotiating with Mozambique for the establishment of a Joint Water Commission.

 

Relevant Documents :

  • National Water Resources Act
  • Shire River Basin Technical Brief
 
 

[1] Government of Malawi, 2011. Malawi Water Resource Investment Strategy Report, Annex I (iii) – Water Resources Assessment for WRAs 1–4.[2][2] Government of Malawi, Ministry of Water Development and Irrigation (2013). Shire River Basin Management Programme (Phase I) Project Final Environmental and Social Assessment Report.

[3] FAO accessed at http://www.fao.org/docrep/v8260b/V8260B13.htm.

[4] Source: The Zambezi Water Information System at http://www.zamwis.org/Reports/Map%2024%20sec-02l_v09_a4.jpg

[5] Government of Malawi – Ministry of Water Development and Irrigation (2013) Shire River Basin Management Programme (Phase I) Project Final Environment and Social Assessment Report.