Community, Community Development, Conservation, Malawi Zambia TFCA, Nyika National Park, Partnerships, TFCAs, Tourism, Transboundary Landscapes, Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, Water security

Presidential Visit Marks Nationwide Significance of Thazima Water Scheme Project

Left to right: Mr Brighton Kumchedwa, DNPW, representatives of contractor H.E. Jackson, President Chakwera and his wife, Minister of Tourism the Hon Vera Kamtukele and George Nxumayo, Peace Parks’ Project Manager for the Nyika-Vwaza Block

[Thazima, Rumphi District, 13 March]:  In a significant gesture of commitment and support, His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, today visited the site of the Thazima Gravity-Fed Potable Water Supply Scheme. The President celebrated the progress made by the project that will be supplying water to 18,000 people this year and up to 33,000 in the next ten years.

In April 2023, the Government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Tourism, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), partnered with Peace Parks Foundation to launch the Thazima Gravity-Fed Potable Water Supply Scheme. This will provide safe drinking water to people living along the borders of Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. Access to safe drinking water will significantly reduce the challenges faced by people who currently walk long distances to fetch water and rely on salty boreholes. When drawing water from Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, they are also exposed to human-wildlife conflict with dangerous animals.

Women and children, in particular, must currently carry water long distances from rivers and salty boreholes. This compromises both household and education time, and exposes the entire community to water-borne diseases. Fetching water from protected areas also raises risks of human-wildlife conflict. Taps will now be installed within 200 metres of villages along the pipeline.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, through the German Development Bank KfW, is providing funding of EUR 4.7 million for the project. This investment forms part of a broader support to the two conservation areas, and to the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area which embraces the two countries, promoting an integrated approach of biodiversity conservation and local development. Peace Parks has been involved in the management and development of this ecologically unique region since 2015.

Our Vision 2063 is clear: to be a truly, inclusively wealthy and self-reliant nation by 2063. We are enabling this by making sure that we conserve and sustain the environment – which, in turn, takes care of us – but also that we serve communities. It is a symbiotic relationship that needs to be maintained; for this, provision of clean water is crucial. In terms of partnerships, we see Peace Parks Foundation working with us and our Zambian counterparts, with the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Water and Sanitation. This synergy is vital because our country will develop when we work together. The new Co-management Trust will ensure that this is a continuing process of providing real transformation to all rural communities, even as we encourage tourism to flow.

His Excellency Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi
Peace Parks Foundation’s George Nxumayo, Project Manager for the Nyika-Vwaza Block, walks the President and Minister of Tourism through the project’s purpose and progress during the event.

Realising Malawi’s Vision 2063

The water scheme aligns with Malawi’s Vision 2063, focused on the country’s capacity to fund its development needs primarily by itself. The project is aligned to enablers for achieving this goal by ensuring environmental sustainability by managing natural resources responsibly, whereby ensuring that rural communities have access to safe water. An additional aim is to develop world-class nature-based tourism hubs across the country, that include Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, which will measurably boost livelihood opportunities. These protected areas showcase bountiful, unique biodiversity and hold immense potential to generate tourism revenue, a vital share of which will go to local people and contribute to sustaining the national economy.  

Integral to achieving its vision is Malawi’s resolve to put effective and equitable governance systems and institutions in place. In a pivotal development in June 2023, the Ministry of Tourism and Peace Parks Foundation signed a ground-breaking 20-year co-management agreement to secure the long-term protection and sustainability of Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. Under the agreement, the Government of Malawi, through the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and Peace Parks are establishing an independent trust with an ensuing mission to balance both conservation and local development. The co-management trust will provide key support to the water scheme, and directly to the communities through two water users’ associations created to ensure local management.

Laying of pipes and foundations are well underway at the Thazima site; construction, by H.E. Jackson Engineering, is 60% complete and due to be operational by June.

Alongside the recently completed 70 km solar-powered electric fence in Vwaza Marsh on the Malawian side to prevent human-wildlife conflict, the water scheme adds weight to a EUR 1.3 million community livelihood programme, co-funded by KfW and the European Union, in helping safeguard farmers’ agricultural fields. This has already impacted 12,000 households, with interventions aimed at sustainable use of natural resources and conservation-friendly agriculture. The impact of these initiatives is already being amplified by our unique new co-management agreement with the Government of Malawi. We look forward to the scheme’s official inauguration in June, and many more milestones for communities and the country to come.

George Nxumayo, Peace Parks’ Project Manager for the Nyika-Vwaza Block
In 2015, Peace Parks facilitated the establishment of the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area, comprising two main components. Of these, the Nyika-North Luangwa component is centered on a high grassland plateau, a vital watershed and the source of the Runyina River. Gravity will feed the pipeline transmitting water down to the vicinity of Nyika and Vwaza’s communities. The water scheme forms part of a broader community development investment to support the two conservation areas and the transboundary landscape, promoting an integrated approach of biodiversity conservation and local development.

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