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Completion of Lake Gwayi-Shangani to benefit Matebeleland South

by Staff reporter
29 Jan 2024 at 05:52hrs | Views
THE completion of Lake Gwayi-Shangani will see Matebeleland South also benefiting from the project through increased land under irrigation as dams which are currently supplying Bulawayo with water will be channelled to the agriculture sector.

This was said by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development director irrigation Engineer Bezzel Chitsungo, who said that when Bulawayo starts getting water from Lake Gwayi-Shangani, the dams which are presently supplying water to Bulawayo will have excess water which will be used to increase land under irrigation in the province.

Lake Gwayi-Shangani is a flagship project which is mainly going to benefit Bulawayo in terms of water supply and five districts in Matebeleland North who are going to benefit from irrigation schemes.

Responding to questions sent to him by the Business Chronicle, Eng Chitsungo said Matebeleland North will benefit from the green belt along the pipeline which will be bringing water to Bulawayo and some communal irrigation blocks which will be established in Hwange, Binga and Lupane.

The construction of the Lake Gwayi-Shangani, a major component of the National Matebeleland Zambezi Water Project, is among the flagship projects being undertaken by the Government.

Lake Gwayi-Shangani construction is expected to provide a permanent water solution for Bulawayo and Matebeleland region.

The lake, the third largest inland waterbody after Lake Mutirikwi and Tugwi-Mukosi will be linked to Bulawayo by a 252km pipeline.

"As part of the global Gwayi-Shangani development, there is need for a masterplan which is work in progress, which is going to articulate finer details on, to what extent this project is going to affect development within Matebeleland North.

"But just to summarise from the irrigation perspective there is potential that once water is found in terms of supply from Gwayi-Shangani, it means other components of the already existing dams which ordinarily are supplying water to Bulawayo city whose water maybe become excess, it means we can benefit by having a potential to increase area under irrigation on the same dams," said Eng Chitsungo.

"Here I'm referring to Umzingwane, Mtshabezi and other dams, that are mainly the dams under which Bulawayo is benefiting in terms of its water supply."

In terms of the irrigation blocks Eng Chitsungo said they are looking at those blocks which are going to be implemented under the Vision 2030 (V30) accelerator model where the Government agronomists in the form of Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) will help the communal to be more organised, to facilitate intensive crop production and animal husbandry on their farms.

He said they will ensure that once the Government invests in infrastructure in the form of irrigation and water supply systems, the same infrastructure becomes sustainably managed.

Bulawayo is currently getting its water from dams in Matebeleland South.

The Second Republic has stepped up efforts to fulfil the century-old dream to permanently solve Bulawayo's perennial water woes as well as transform lives in the Matebeleland region.

Eng Chitsugo said bringing water to Bulawayo from Lake Gwayi-Shangani will require stakeholder consultations in terms of coming to terms around the operation and maintenance of the infrastructure, especially the 252km pipeline and the pumping system.

He said it may mean that for it to be sustainable in terms of cost, the Government must then come in with a mechanism of trying to reduce that cost by probably a way of subsidy especially on the cost of pumping and running the pumping system so that it becomes favourable, acceptable and affordable for Bulawayo residents who are going to benefit mostly from Lake Gwayi-Shangani.

The irrigation schemes development is under Government's thrust on Accelerated Irrigation Development and Rehabilitation Programme, which seeks to accelerate irrigation development, which is around 203 000 hectares to 350 000 hectares by year 2025.

Source - The Chronicle
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