By Synd Kalimbuka
Zomba, January 07, Mana
The future of aquatic animals in Lake Chilwa is said to be bright following heavy downpours that have been experienced in different parts of Zomba, Phalombe and Machinga districts.
The lake which completely dried up between October and November last year to an extent of using vehicles to drive to Chisi Island as mode of transportation has now been filled with water.
According to the water gauge readings installed at Kachulu beach which Malawi News Agency (Mana) saw on Monday, the water levels have reached 60 centimeters up where dugout canoes are transporting people and goods from Kachulu to Chisi Island and back.
District Fisheries Officer for Zomba, Lapken Chikoko said the improvement of water levels on the lake has rescued the remaining fish in the water body which survived in the selected pools within the lake.
Chikoko, therefore, expressed hope that even transportation of people and goods to other areas across the lake such as Sombi, Ngotangota and Lungazi using motorized boats will take place soon if the rainfall pattern remains the same.
“When water levels reach 100 centimeters, speed boats will be able to transport people and goods to areas across the lake,” Chikoko said.
One of the local boat transporters, Steven Chimenya told Mana that he is happy that his only means of earning a living which is boat transport is now possible.
“I have been struggling as a bread winner to get food for my family and other basic needs because I had nowhere to depend on,” Chimenya said.
Director of Leadership in Environmental Adaptation and Development (LEAD), Professor Sosten Chiotha said the situation looks promising around Lake Chilwa catchment areas as the rains were pouring.
Chiotha, however, said the organization is collecting data from different stations which will be analyzed to compare with the same information for last year.
“We are collecting data from all stations to see how rainfall has been fairing within the last three months, then we will comment on the future and proper guidance will be provided to people on how to survive on the lake,” said Chiotha.
Chiotha added that since no fishing activity is taking place in Lake Chilwa, nutrition status of people is likely to be affected.
Women from Traditional Authority Mwambo, Nkagula, Nkumbira and Kuntumanji in Zomba district are on record to have openly voiced out their concerns on challenges they are facing following the drying up of Lake Chilwa.
The women alleged that their spouses left them with children to other districts without returning which resulted into most of them venturing into transactional sexual activities for survival.
Ward Councilor for Chilwa Ward in Zomba Chisi Constituency, Cedrick Kokani has since called on government to distribute relief food under 2018/2019 Lean Season Response in good time, claiming that people in the area were spending 2-3 days without food.
According to Chiotha, increased over cultivation, wild bush fires and deforestation in catchment areas are the major causes of the problem resulting in siltation of the lake.
By Synd Kalimbuka