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HYDROLOGICAL, TOPOGRAPHICAL, SEDIMENTATION AND CLIMATE STUDIES FOR MALAWI RAIL

Wash away under railway line after significant flooding after cyclone in 2015JG Afrika completed hydrological, topographical, sedimentation and climate studies to assist the Malawian government rebuild railway infrastructure in an area of the country that is prone to devastating floods.
The railway line extends from the Mozambican border in the south of Malawi, to Bangula, at the confluence of the Shire and the Ruo Rivers. Here, it crosses extensive floodplain areas, before travelling adjacent to the Ruo River to Sandama and onwards to the Limbe Station in Blantyre, one of Malawi’s main commercial hubs.
The study focused on the section of the railway line where significant flooding occurred in January 2015 as a result of cyclonic activity, particularly in the vicinity of the Ruo River from Sandama to its confluence with the Shire River, at Makhanga and the Chiromo crossing of the Shire River to Bangula. Floods caused massive erosion and wash away damage on several sections of the railway line that are in close proximity to the river. Several bridges, including the Chiromo crossing across the Shire River, also washed away.
The government received financing from the International Development Association toward the cost of the Malawi Floods Emergency Recovery Project (MFERP). Through the MFERP Project Implementation Unit, the government appointed a Joint Venture between JG Afrika and Royal HaskoningDHV (RHDHV) in association with a local Malawian company, Majiatua Engineering Services, to undertake the study.
JG Afrika led the study, which commenced in mid-2017 and was successfully completed in February 2019.
We were responsible for the majority of the outputs and were supported by RHDHV on the sedimentation studies. MESI Consulting provided important in-country support, as well as hydrological input and context of the working environment. Survey support services were provided by Southern Mapping and Surveys Malawi.
Outcomes of the study were workshopped with a variety of different local and national stakeholders. Notably, our work, including simulated flood levels, was accepted by the authorities shortly before Cyclone Idai made landfall in March 2019. The extent of the flooding mirrored the simulations generated during the study and acted as a further validation of its outputs.