A local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Rumphi district has embarked on a pilot phase of the construction of flood resistant earth-bag houses for people living in flood prone areas.
The NGO is targeting the districts of Karonga and Rumphi as an alternative for relocating to uplands.
Executive Director for the Rocha Youth Development centre based in Rumphi, Moya Walita disclosed that they thought of replicating their technology of constructing flood resilient houses to their colleagues in Karonga so that they are protected from floods.
Walita said government’s idea to encourage people living in flood prone areas to relocate to up lands is not a solution because many of the people are still hesitant on moving because they earn a living through rice farming.
“How many people have relocated to uplands since government through disaster risk management Affairs started advocating for it? No one has dared to do that,” Walita said.
According to Walita, relocation will only render the nation into food insecurity because most of those that live in the flood prone areas in the district rely on farming to make a living.
Walita went on further to stress on the need for Malawians to adopt such construction of houses using locally made materials which are cheap.
The houses are constructed by filling up plastic bags with soil and then adding a barbed wire so to make it durable.
For the construction people are given money and materials and then after that pay a fee which is later given to someone else in need of the money to purchase materials as well.
Concurring with Walita, both Senior Group Village Head Man Gwereweta and Mwangomba had similar view that government should forget about relocation issues and focus on this modern way of construction.
Chairperson of the Support Malawi Heidelberg E.V organisation, Heinrich Wegener said earth bag houses are very unique in as far as preservation of natural resources is concerned since it does not require the use of firewood to burn bricks because only plastic bags and sand are needed for the construction.
In addition to that, Wegener also said the construction of these houses does not require skilled labour but just villagers who upon expressing their passion to construct the plastic bags, they are trained to do the construction work.
He said everywhere he introduces this kind of buildings, people welcome the idea hence he is optimistic that people of Karonga will definitely adopt the system to replace brick made houses that contributes much to environmental degradation due to wanton cutting down of trees for burning the bricks.
The organisation is expecting to construct about 100 houses in a period of two years to the tune of about MK80 million.