The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has trained gauge readers on how to collect accurate hydrological data, take care of the hydrological monitoring stations and disseminate flood warning messages.
Government of Malawi through DWR under the Scaling-Up the Use of Modernized Climate Information and Early warning Systems (M-CLIMES) project upgraded 22 hydrological monitoring stations in 10 districts.
According to M-CLIMES National Project Coordinator Ted Nyekanyeka, the project updated the gauge stations to enhance flood forecasting capacity of DWR and save lives from flood disasters.
Speaking in Mzuzu on Friday, DWR Principal Hydrologist, Chikondi Mbemba said the department brought together gauge readers from the 22 stations to equip them with skills on how best to record accurate data from the stations.
Mbemba said the training is important because it will make the gauge stations functional since they will be patronized frequently.
“The training will help us to obtain accurate data from the stations through the gauge readers and by engaging them, it will also make the gauge stations operational since they will be well looked after through the skills acquired.
He said some participants are new volunteers who needed capacity building.
He said: “The training also provided an opportunity for interactions to gauge readers learning from one other both on successes and challenges faced in their respective stations.”
The participants have been drawn from Zomba, Mangochi, Salima, Lilongwe, Nkhotakota, Nkhatabay, Mzimba, Kasungu, Karonga and Chitipa.
One of the participants, 53-year-old Glory Nyondo from Chambo station in Yotamu village Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwenewenya in Chitipa said she has learnt a lot from the training hoping that she will not provide wrong readings especially when the gauge has submerged.
Nyondo said her expertise in gauge reading was learned from her late brother and she really looked forward to the training for accurate readings.
“This is my first training since I volunteered to be a gauge reader having succeeded my late brother. I thank the department for the training and I hope that more trainings will flow to equip us with more knowledge in taking accurate readings to help the department make comprehensive decisions,” said Nyondo.
She however requested the department to provide them with honoraria’s and other working materials as a motivation as they have to keep the surroundings of the stations tidy as it is their working stations on a daily basis.
In his response, Mbemba said the requests are valid and attributed failure to pay honoraria’s to inadequate funding but said the ministry is lobbying district councils and National Water Resources Authority (NWRA) to include them in their budgets.
Another participant, 24 year-old Patrick Banda from Luwawa station in T/A Timbiri Nkhatabay commended DWR for such a timely training.
Banda said he has just finished his form 4 and that volunteering to be a gauge reader will keep him active as it is a hands-on job.
At the end of the training, each participant received a pack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which included gumboots, raincoats, work suits and a pair of socks.
The M-CLIMES project is being implemented by the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), in collaboration with DWR, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS), Department of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES), Department of Fisheries (DoF), and the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM) and aims at scaling up the use of early warning information to save lives at risk of climate-related hazards.