Government has invested $5 million in the construction of reservoirs and drilling of boreholes across the country to enhance water harvesting methods for irrigation to boost agriculture output and provide clean water for communities. Zimbabwe National Water Authority, which is the Government’s water management agency, will be providing technical assistance for the construction of the weirs.
Over the years, the country has suffered severe droughts, and as a result Government has seen the need to vigorously pursue an ambitious command water harvesting programme. This programme is aimed at improving the lives of people at grassroots level across the country through the construction of small weirs on rivers in order to harness the water which will be used during the dry season.
Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said: “My Ministry has secured funding to the tune of $2 million to support this programme, and has an allocation of $3 million to support the drilling of boreholes across the country. We recall that at the height of the drought that we experienced last year, we requested Parliament to submit their lists of possible areas where we can sink boreholes and we have so far identified over 107 sites for these projects.”
The local leadership structures will also be critical in the identification of areas in their respective wards, where the weirs will be built and the target is having a weir in every ward. Today, Minister Muchinguri is leading the Ministry’s delegation to Mtshabezi Dam in Matabeleland South Province, where they will be meeting stakeholders and commissioning the Mtshabezi offtakes water supply projects.
In the coming weeks they shall be undertaking same projects in Matebeleland, Midlands and Masvingo. Zimbabwe is forecasting mostly normal to above normal rains culminating in high river flows and high in flows into dams as well as high recharge to groundwater aquifers. The country is expected to harvest between 18 to 24 billion cubic metres of water yet the country’s dam storage capacity is standing at 14 billion cubic metres against a situation where most of the dams are at nearly 70 percent full, at a time when they should be at 50 percent full as the new season approaches.
The construction of the weirs comes as the Government and Sakunda Holdings have collectively pledged $68 million towards the installation of centre pivots aimed at enhancing irrigation infrastructure to support various agricultural programmes. Government is also targeting to develop 11 400 hectares of low-cost irrigation schemes under Public Sector Investment Programme as part of efforts to improve agriculture productivity levels.
The development is set to increase the size of irrigable land as the country moves to produce all crops all year round. There are also ongoing PSIP Projects in the country such as Chiduku – Tikwiri in Manicaland, Chitora in Mash East and Fuwe Panganayi in Masvingo to ensure that farmers can be productive all year round and avert possible droughts.–herald