The overall objective of the SRBMP is to increase sustainable social, economic and environmental benefits by effectively and collaboratively planning, developing and managing the Shire River Basin’s natural resources. A key aim of the Program relates to improving land and water management for ecosystem and livelihood benefits in target areas.
The aims of this project were to address the interlinked challenges of poverty and a deteriorating natural resource base, not only in the Shire River Basin but in Malawi as a whole, to reduce the process of environmental degradation and to improve the productive potential of natural resources. To address these challenges, Aurecon led the development of national guidelines on integrated catchment management and rural infrastructure development that will be used by relevant government departments, their development partners, district offices, extension officers, village communities, and other stakeholders in Malawi. Integrated catchment management facilitates the management of all natural resources at a smaller scale that enables not only government but also land owners and stakeholders to become involved in the day to day management of the catchment, thereby ensuring sustainable and reasonable utilisation of the resources.
The guidelines were targeted at both strategic planning level as well as at village level with technical guidelines for site specific interventions. The guidelines covered multi-sectoral planning and implementation of catchment management at different scales (from basin wide to village level) and were created to enhance harmonised planning, technical interventions and monitoring and evaluation. It addresses a wide range of issues such as water efficiency, renewable energy, disaster management, alien invasive vegetation management, soil erosion rehabilitation and prevention, conservation agriculture and permaculture.
The project also included a strong training component through which national and regional government, district and NGO staff were trained in the application of the guidelines. Participants were taught about the importance of the ecosystem and the services the environment provides and how to manage their environments more holistically and sustainably through a catchment management approach. Over 110 catchment management guidelines were compiled as well as a technical toolbox of “How to…” guidelines.
Over 200 extension workers in various districts around the country have been trained. The extension workers will now provide support to their villages in developing Village‐Level Action Plans. These incorporate not only natural resource rehabilitation, prevention and management activities, but also livelihood improvement and social issues such as health and education and feed into the district development and safety net plans.
Due to the success of these training workshops, the Client and other community organisations within Malawi have motivated for additional training to be provided across the country during 2016. Ten Youtube style videos were also produced in the scope of the project, to provide visual guidelines on some of the key guidelines. Aurecon collaborated with ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives – Local Governments for Sustainability) to provide an additional training session and to develop a mobile Android application called Thrive, which enables the guidelines to be accessible via mobile devices.
The village of Mitware was used as a positive example of catchment management during the training courses. In return Aurecon sponsored a tree planting workshop in this village as a way of thanking the villagers for their cooperation. Additionally, trees planted during the workshop offset Aurecon's carbon emissions from the project.
The guidelines, videos, training documents and other useful references are now complete, and are available on the project website: http://www.catchmentguidelines.org.mw/
Aurecon’s Water Unit in Cape Town undertook the project along with inputs from other Aurecon units and various local and international experts. The project finished in January 2016 after a two year duration.