“We’re proud to be part of this unfolding chapter, as it puts the communities at the very core of local conservation decisions and actions.” This was the motivating sentiment expressed by Peace Parks Foundation CEO, Werner Myburgh, at the launch of the Thazima gravity-fed potable water supply scheme (Thazima Water Scheme) on Thursday, April 20, in Malawi.

The Thazima Water Scheme will provide safe, potable water to the communities bordering Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. The scheme will tap its water from the Runyina River in Nyika by gravity along a 74-kilometre transmission line, and with this event marking the beginning of the scheme’s construction, it is expected to be completed and operational within the next year. The project will strengthen community governance to empower local water consumers to manage the scheme themselves, ensuring its longevity and sustainability.

Despite Malawi being blessed with ample water, accessing potable water has been a massive challenge. Mostly women are burdened with the responsibility of collecting poor-quality and untreated water in the early hours of the morning, often from small streams and sparse boreholes in wildlife-populated protected areas. Not only is this routine journey for water time- and energy-consuming, but it also puts these women in wildlife conflict danger. Poor water quality also poses health threats and exposes people to fatal water-borne diseases.

Following the launch ceremony, an event was held dedicated to the completion of a 70-kilometre solar-powered electric fence around Vwaza Marsh on the Malawian side, providing a game-proof line of protection for local people exposed to life-threatening encounters with wildlife.

Peace Parks Foundation, responsible for fund management and project implementation, has been comanaging Nyika and Vwaza within the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area since 2015, with the Government of Malawi, through the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, playing a key co-management role on the ground. This new development, the Thazima Water Scheme, would not have been possible without the generous donor support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, through the German Development Bank KfW, which has also been supporting the transfrontier conservation area since its inception.

With the support and dedication of generous donors and in collaboration with the Government of Malawi, Peace Parks Foundation, through wildlife fencing, community livelihood programmes, and the Thazima Water Scheme, is pursuing an integrated approach to biodiversity conservation and sustainable local development in this precious region of Malawi. Join us on this holistic conservation journey by subscribing to the PeaceParks.TV newsletter for updates from Malawi, direct to your inbox.