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Greening the fields again: Tapukwa Irrigation Scheme Renovation

Winter is generally a dry season in Malawi and water becomes a precious commodity. In Tapukwa, a community in the Henga Valley in Rumphi District the fields around the valley bottom are green with winter Maize, Tomatoes, beans, vegetables and many other crops thanks to irrigation. The scheme was built by IRLADP in partnership with Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development but over the years the scheme dilapidated, and the scheme no longer worked.  

With funding from Scottish Government, Centre for Youth and Development in partnership with Malawi Fruits are implementing the Water is Life Project since 2017 to renovate the irrigation facilities. The project also supports provision of agricultural extension services, agricultural inputs, linkages to markets and trainings on financial literacy and business planning.

Using Gross Margins calculations to mobilize farmers enabled them to recognize the important of an irrigation scheme and making sure that the scheme is sustainable. This ensured ‘community cohesion’ – the willingness of everyone to work together and this is what has been particularly important. The members of the Tapukwa Irrigation scheme, did whatever possible on their part to renovate the scheme. They worked together to refurbish the canals, distribution boxes and extended the scheme by adding 3 extra secondary canals expanding the irrigable land to 27 Ha from the initial 17 Ha.

Water now passes along the cement-lined channel, irrigating the 27 ha of land in which crops of Maize, Tomatoes, beans, vegetables and many other crops are flourishing.

Establishing a mechanism for maintenance and sustainability is an essential part of such renovation work. The scheme has been supported to set an organizational structure and appropriate training on Irrigation Scheme Management has been provided.  A water distribution system has been agreed, and an Operation and Maintenance fund established through which member contributions will be paid.

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