Wednesday, 26 April 2017
 
The lake is not only relied on by Malawians but it is also a tourist attraction site The lake is not only relied on by Malawians but it is also a tourist attraction site Image sourced at miningmalawi.com

The Scramble For Lake Malawi Is On

Written by  Written By Earlene CHIMOYO In Blantyre Mar 30, 2017

The country’s biggest water resource, Lake Malawi is facing a lot of pressure through projects, eyeing to benefit Malawians.

The biggest benefit that the lake has provided to the country since 1964 is power generation as the lake pours into the Shire River.

However, demand for services that are produced from these water bodies downstream, is now putting immense pressure on the lake.

Covering an area of 11 426 cubic meters, lake Malawi is the third deepest fresh water body in the world.

Its water volume of over 200 cubic liters has provided life to rare fish species, which have benefited communities around it.

To fully utilize the lake, the government continues to explore ways of taking how it can take advantage of the water mass to develop the country.

Aside from the traditional and tired role of hydro power generation downstream on the shire, a new project to pump water for distribution in Lilongwe is in the pipeline, and the controversial oil exploration which continues to divide opinion.

Already, the public has been wondering if Lake Malawi will cope, since power generation companies have been singling out the depleting water levels as the reason for the insufficient power supply.

William Liabunya who is Chief executive of the Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) said that normally by the month of January the water level in the lake is supposed to be 474.5 meters above sea level, however this year the levels were 473.0 meters.

This translates to 1.5 meters below the required and expected level for maximum power generation throughout the year.

This MK500 Billion project is being touted as one of the remarkable engineering works to take place in the country.

Commenting on the matter during the World Water Day celebrations in Mangochi district, President Peter Mutharika assured the nation that government will continue to implement policies that will make water available.

He added that it will also ensure that water is preserved, safe and utilised for agricultural production and for domestic and industrial use.

And the same lake is expected to supply piped water to residents of some southern region districts through the Likhubula River water project.

All this is raising fear of further depletion of the water levels in the lake.

The public is curious as to whether entities such as EGENCO have done feasibility studies to assess the level of impact the proposed projects will exert on their operations and capabilities.

Though they have not done any studies yet, Liabunya was however quick to point out that, they don’t expect the demand for water to lower levels in the lake.

As if that is not enough, now the lake is to be strained further, only this time not through water provision but oil exploration.

This is continuing to create an endless debate, with the government claiming it is eyeing multi billion kwacha returns if oil deposits are found.

On the other hand environmentalists and the public are arguing that oil drilling would disrupt the ecosystem.

Godfrey Mfiti who is an environmental activist describes the ongoing preparations to explore for oil on the lake as unfortunate despite numerous calls from the public and environmentalists.

According to Mfiti, exploring of oil in a fresh water lake results into pollution which will affect people who rely on the lake for various purposes and aquatic life.

President Mutharika and his lieutenants are however having none of it, stressing companies will have to continue exploring on the deep fresh waters as in their view, the economic benefits far out way the concerns.

 

Regardless of who is right or wrong, all the public is hoping for is that the beautiful waters of Lake Malawi will be strong enough to shoulder these huge projects, otherwise disaster could strike.

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