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Water woes rock Insiza South irrigation scheme

by Staff reporter
28 Aug 2019 at 07:47hrs | Views
WATER woes at Silalatshani Irrigation Scheme in Insiza South, Matabeleland South, have reached breaking point amid revelations that supplies will be disconnected at the end of this month due to very low water levels at the scheme's supply dam.

This was revealed by Chief Bekezela Sibansa, who is also a plotholder at the irrigation scheme, for 50 years a lifeline for communities in Filabusi and its surrounding areas.

Chief Sibansa yesterday said starvation had hit his area, exacerbated by the dwindling water levels at the irrigation' supply dam.

"There is serious starvation in this area. Since water is also set to be disconnected from the irrigation scheme by end of this month (August), it will be more difficult for us," Chief Sibansa said.

"We had wished that we get enough water to conduct our maize farming activities without disturbances before the rains come. We also have problems in accessing inputs such as fertilizers and seeds, as they are now too expensive for a poor villager. Worse, too, the fuel for the tractor is now too expensive such that no one will be able to use the tractor."

Chief Sibansa said the farmers were also appealing for a fence to enclose the scheme to prevent livestock and wild animals from destroying their crops. The fence around the irrigation scheme was vandalised either by people or domestic animals, leaving the crops exposed to destruction.

The traditional leader said their aim was to plant maize to end starvation in the area, but the disconnection of water supplies due to low levels, shortage of inputs and diesel had disrupted their programmes.

"There is a serious food shortage in our area, so there is an urgent need for food aid," he said.

"We even need assistance with stockfeeds, at subsidised prices, as our livestock is in serious danger of being wiped away by drought."

In May, the traditional leader indicated that water levels at the dam were dwindling fast, saying in the past, they would be assisted by Bulawayo City Council (BCC), which used to supply them with water from Lake Cunningham.

He said since BCC was presently also facing water challenges, he wondered if the local authority would still assist them.

In the 2018-2019 farming season, the irrigation scheme managed to produce quite a reasonable harvest, according to the farmers, but they are concerned that the dam's water levels at this time of the year was rapidly decreasing, affecting their cash crops and vegetables.

The 360ha irrigation scheme is home to 853 farmers, with one farmer holding a maximum of two hectares, producing maize, beans and other crops, while during winters, the farmers produce cash crops such as vegetables and wheat, among others.

Silalatshani Dam also supplies water to JZ Moyo High School, Colleen Bawn town and Ekusileni Mission.

Source - newsday