Irrigation department bemoans inadequate staff

The Department of Irrigation has singled out high vacancy rate as one of the challenges that is constraining progress of work.

The Department`s Principal Secretary Sandram Maweru has told the Parliamentary cluster on agriculture and food security and natural resources that the department is unable to effectively function due to inadequate staff.

“We have a vacancy rate of around 69% which is very huge for the programmes that we have with the capacity of 32% we can’t achieve much.

“Basically, the major challenge is at district council level because we have development most of the functions but the district councils, we don’t have adequate staff so we are handicapped in that,” said Maweru

Maweru also proposed for amendment of the Irrigation Act in order to incorporate the private sector to invest in irrigation.

“There were some gaps that were not yet amended, more especially on the private sector we want accelerate that and provide some of the leverage that private sector should be encouraged to invest in irrigation,” he said.

However, the cluster has questioned the Department`s failure to effectively the money that was allocated to the department in the previous budget through donor support.

“The only problem that as a committee had was about the absorption of the money that donors are giving us, you will note that out of K70 billion that donors gave us they only used K38 billion meaning that the other money has not been used.

“It`s not right that when donors give you money and time elapses you fail to use that money it shows that maybe you were not well prepared, so we had a strong word with them regarding the use of funding that we get from donors,” said Suleman.

The Cluster has since recommended to visit the Shire Valley Transformation Programme in Chikwawa before going through the Department`s presentation on the same.

“We have said that they should hold on with that presentation because it makes no sense to be told of something that we cannot see, so as a committee we will be visiting the Shire Valley Project very soon and we will ask them to give us the presentation right there on the sight,” said Suleman.

The Irrigation Department has been allocated K44 billion in the current 2021/2022 budget estimates and a bulk of funds for the Shire Valley Transformation Programme is from the World Bank, African Development Bank and International Fund for Agriculture Development.

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