In 2017 Water for the World initiated a project to provide a drip irrigation system in Chithumba, a remote village in southern Malawi. The project completed at the start of 2019 and is now helping to ensure a community of 500 people has enough food to eat.
Climate change is resulting in more extreme weather in Malawi, with either long periods of drought or heavy rainfalls and devastating floods. These conditions lead to loss of harvests and major food shortages, creating the need for improved methods of farming such as drip irrigation. Modern irrigation systems built with PE pipe systems are extremely water efficient and protect crops from drought. Combined with fertiliser, they allow farmers to raise up to three harvests a year, instead of just one. However, the pumps, tanks and pipes required are too expensive for many communities to buy.
Planning and design started in 2016 and the system is now fully installed and running. It consists of two boreholes along with groundwater pumps, water tanks and irrigation pipes. The pumps are solar powered, with PV panels containing Borealis Quentys™ encapsulant materials, and the PE pipes also use Borealis and Borouge materials.
While the food situation in Malawi remains severe, the drip irrigation system allows the villagers to raise another harvest, despite the approaching dry season, helping to cushion them against food shortages. Another benefit of the system is that in the future the villagers will be able to use groundwater for drinking as well.