15 June 2006

Zimbabwe: Expansion of Irrigation Scheme to Cost $500 Billion

Masvingo — GOVERNMENT is working in conjunction with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Masvingo to expand Lapache Irrigation Scheme in Mwenezi at a cost of $500 billion.

Once the project is complete, the scheme will increase in size from the current 40 hectares to 500 hectares. Water for irrigation at the scheme, that will benefit new farmers resettled under the model A1 scheme, will be drawn from the underutilised Manyuchi Dam in the district.

Masvingo Provincial Governor Cde Willard Chiwewe yesterday said the expansion would be done under the auspices of the Masvingo Irrigation Development Committee. "Expansion of the irrigation scheme is going to be jointly undertaken by the Government and some non-governmental organisations, so we will complement one another to make sure that more people can have access to irrigation.

"This is part of the work that is being done throughout the province following recommendations made by the provincial irrigation development committee which seeks to fully utilise the abundant water sources in Masvingo to end chronic food woes," said Cde Chiwewe.

The irrigation development committee in Masvingo was founded at the behest of President Mugabe who, last year, expressed dismay at the glaring underutilisation of water in most of the province's dams. President Mugabe offered himself to be in the committee and was made patron. The provincial chief irrigation officer in Masvingo, Mr Patrick Chibura, said they had since finished preliminary studies on the expansion of Lapache Irrigation Scheme that he said was going to benefit 700 families.

"We have since completed carrying out the preliminary investigations on the expansion of the scheme and once we get the $500 billion that is required we can then start working on the project," said Mr Chibura. He pointed out that water was going to be conveyed from Manyuchi Dam to Lapache Irrigation Scheme through canals.

Mr Chibura also said farming operations at Lapache were currently being affected by the intermittent breakdown of pumps. Some NGOs were, however, assisting to repair the broken down pumps and had even assisted with funds towards the rehabilitation of the nearby Dinhe Irrigation Scheme which is also due for expansion.

The expansion of Lapache and subsequently Dinhe irrigation schemes in Mwenezi was expected to go a long way in fully utilising water from Manyuchi Dam which has been underutilised for the past decade yet crops in nearby fields needed the water. Water in the giant dam built at the confluence of Manyuchi and Mwenezi rivers can irrigate about 9 000 hectares in the drought-prone Mwenezi and enhance food security at household level.

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