Tanzania and Malawi launched a joint initiative to develop River Songwe by constructing a 180-MW hydro powerhouse, among other projects.
Known as the River Songwe Basin Commission (RSBC), the initiative seeks to provide water for an irrigation scheme covering about 6,200 hectares in both countries and controlling floods in the densely populated lower part of the basin, costing a total of $829 million (about Sh2 trillion).
Speaking during an event to inaugurate the RSBC here on Monday, Water deputy minister Jumaa Aweso said development of the commission dates back to 1986 when leaders of the two countries agreed to undertake the project.
"The first phase was launched in 2003 involving the project's feasibility study, while in 2015 the second phase was carried out. It involved detailed design and preparation for the project. Today's signing of the agreement on the commission is thus the Third Phase in the implementation stage," he said.
Malawi's minister for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water, Mr Joseph Mwanamveka, said the completion of the project will further improve relations between the two countries and bind people living close to the border together as brothers and sisters.
Implementation of projects, he said, would create over 5,000 jobs, increase access to water for 450,000 people by 2025 and reduce deaths caused by floods.
"The Sh3 trillion to be injected into the project will be sourced from the two governments in partnership with development partners. We will ensure the project is implemented within the required standards because we have competent engineers to supervise the job," he said.
Tanzania's permanent secretary in the ministry of Water, Prof Kitila Mkumbo, said the project will be built in such a way that special equipment will be put in place to alert citizens about floods three days before flooding occurs.
"Over 52,000 citizens are affected by floods from both sides annually, causing the death of people and livestock.
Floods also divide the country as five villages in Tanzania are shifted to Malawi while seven in Malawi Villages become part of Tanzania. Through this project, all this will be controlled," he promised.