Who is to blame for the floods?

Ok, so I didn’t really want to write this post, but I felt the need to point out something I’ve written about on this blog before, after someone on Social media tried to  blame Peter Mutharika’s government for the torrential rains and associated flooding that occured in parts of Malawi last week, in particular the flooding in Limbe…..

While there are many things that the current government has to answer for, this in my view is not one of them. Not really…

This governmewnt, as did the last government inherited a country with a neglected, archaic and barely functioning infrastructure. Lets be absolutely be clear there. Infact to drive my point home, i’ll quote someone who mentioned something most people in Malawi know only too well – that a lot of the infrastructure which is being used in Malawi today is exactly the same which Malawi’s founding father, Dr Kamuzu Banda built. Very little in terms of an upgrade has occured since, and this goes for everything from office blocs in the Towns and Cities to drainage systems, Electricity Generation, Stadiums, Airports, Museums …  everything.

So, it’s certainly not this government’s fault that there is flooding.

What you’ll find is that flooding of this kind often is caused by bad drainage systems twinned with deforestation, which subjected to a measure of rain, torrential or otherwise results in excess water with no-where to go.

And if you still want to blame this government, then what you can blame them for, is not instituting enough mechanisms to protect forests, and a failure to enforce the laws on our books to ensure those responsible for deforestation are punished.

And if this neglect does continue, when the next government comes in, please feel free to blame Peter Mutharika for not doing enough about a problem that stared him square in the face.

picture showing deforestation on Mount Mulanje
Deforestation on Mount Mulanje. This is what causes flooding.

Now I understand that in a country in which the majority of rural population (~ over 85% of the 16.36 million inhabitants) depends on firewood, it’s difficult to institute a regime that prohibits the cutting down of trees. But that can’t be said about growing trees (where has the Greenbelt initiative gone?). Or using innovations such as these , which use maize cobs (often discarded in Malawi) instead of wood to make charcoal – thereby lowering dependence on firewood. The authorities in Malawi could do more, for example by working with NGO’s and companies that are developing braziers and charcoal burners that are more efficient; or those which use Sugarcane Bagasse as a Biofuel, or materials such as briquette made from waste.

A bare outline of Thyolo Mountain – when the rains come, there’s very little to stop water and dirt being washed away.


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