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[LILONGWE] Malawi has been given state-of-the-art geology equipment, enabling the country to join an international network of seismic monitoring stations.

The equipment was ceremoniously handed over last week (11 October) at the geological survey offices in Zomba.

Malawi is located in Africa's Rift Valley region making it prone to earthquakes.

"The country lies within a seismically very active belt," says Leonard Kalindekafe, director of geological surveys in the country. "The installation of the system will boost networking and coordination, including information sharing with all countries in the region," he told SciDev.Net.

The International Earth Monitoring System, the first of its kind in Malawi, was donated by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) based in Geneva, Switzerland.

It will improve the country's capability to detect natural disasters such as earthquakes and earth tremors, volcanic explosions and meteorites, and allow it to issue early warning signals to its agriculture and aviation sectors.

The system will be linked to the CTBTO in Geneva, allowing Malawi to verify any observations of earth movements with other stations around the globe.

Henry Mbedza, director of science and technology in Malawi, says the system will also benefit earth science students at the University of Malawi, who will be able to retrieve data on earth movements in the Rift Valley region.

At the official handover ceremony, Patrick Kachimera, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Science and Technology, underlined the impact that natural disasters have on humans and economies.