The Department of Water Resources (DWR) says the newly installed automated hydrological monitoring stations will greatly assist in obtaining timely and accurate data for improved dissemination of flood warnings.
Speaking in Salima on Wednesday during an inspection and testing of the installed gadgets, Director of Water Resources Dr. Modesta Kanjaye said the system will monitor and collect the river water level in order to generate early warning when levels rise beyond a certain threshold.
Kanjaye said the gadgets will assist the department to provide timely, reliable and actionable flood warning information to the vulnerable communities living in the downstream low-lying areas frequented by flooding.
“The system will give us real time hydrological data that will quickly help us to make decisions as soon as water levels rise. Since it is also connected to other systems, the system will also assist other departments such as the Department of Disaster Management Affairs and other stakeholders; to disseminate the flood warning alerts and make informed decisions based on the data collected from the system,” said Kanjaye.
She said that government’s priority is to enhance adaptation and mitigation measures through a number of initiatives for flood disaster risk reduction such as intensifying coverage of the hydrological and meteorological observational systems and scaling-up the use of modernized climate information and early warning system.
She said: “Investing in installation of automated data collection equipment will greatly assist the department in water monitoring and collection of accurate data. The new system is reliable since it doesn’t require physical visits to the stations as we can monitor the status of battery, airtime and water level from the web portal.
“Previously, flood early warning systems were insufficient to provide the most vulnerable communities with timely and actionable flood warning information that could help them make decisions that reduce disaster risks and losses.”
In an interview, one of the community members in Nkhatabay, Eletina Sinkala from Timbiri Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Timbiri said they are hopeful that the gadgets will help the communities to stay away from the water bodies even before they flood.
Sinkala said communities will no longer be worried of safety of their lives and property especially in the rainy season knowing that should the river flood, the gadget will send the message for them to free or secure their property and livestock.
“Almost every year, most vulnerable members of the communities suffer losses due to floods. This has been always as a result of lack of information. We hope that our lives will now be safer especially for us who live in the downstream,” said Sinkala.
Kanjaye added that apart from saving lives, the system will also improve the economy of the country especially those trapped in a poverty-vulnerability cycle due to preventable floods that affect them every year; saying the development will create opportunities for social economic growth.
DWR has embarked on installation of automated gadgets in twenty-two newly constructed Data Collection Platforms (DCP) in ten districts namely Lilongwe, Kasungu, Salima, Nkhotakota, Nkhatabay, Mzimba, Karonga, Chitipa, Mangochi and Zomba.
The automated hydrological monitoring stations are being installed under the M-CLIMES project funded by the Green Climate Fund through UNDP and aims at scaling-up the use of modernized early warning systems and climate information in the country.
The gadgets have been designed to periodically monitor river water levels through its pressure sensors and transmit the measurements to the data logger placed in the DCP house along the river bank, which will then send the water level to a remote server in the Control Room at the DWR Headquarters through a cellular data connection.
“After processing the measurements received, the server then proceeds to display the data on the web portal called Hydro-centre. The relay of the signal is done through an available cellular network compatible with 2G/3G/4G signals that are adequate for data transmissions,” said Kanjaye.