The Zimbabwe National Water Authority is set to embark on aquaculture and water-bottling ventures that would increase its revenue streams and ensure maximum utilisation of the majority of water bodies which currently are lying idle. The two new ventures were born out of the realisation that Zinwa cannot fund all its activities from the current revenue streams and neither can it afford to remain keeping under-utilised water bodies across the country.
The water authority has a debt overhang of U$55 million mainly due to other State agents like NSSA and Zimra.
However, this debt does not tell the true position as Zinwa is owed a staggering US$88 million by various stakeholders including local authorities, farmers and domestic consumers among others.
The most recent statistics within Zinwa show that the country is only using 25 percent of the water resources available in the dams across the country.
Of this 25 percent, 80 percent is consumed in the sugar-producing Lowveld while the remaining 20 percent is used by farmers across the country.
These statistics reveal that a mammoth 75 percent of water resources intended for irrigation is lying idle.
This is a result of a myriad of factors among them inadequate irrigation infrastructure or lack of financial resources by the farmers.
It is with the foregoing background that Zinwa has set up to enter into the lucrative aquaculture and tourism at large water bodies across the country.
Aquaculture refers to the commercial management of fisheries and crocodile farming.
These enterprises are highly profitable but need specialised human resource.
Zimbabwe provides the best climatic conditions for fisheries and crocodile farming.
These two enterprises have huge markets both locally and internationally.
Fish provides proteins for the majority of people while crocodile skin exports would become a very lucrative foreign currency earning revenue stream.
The authority would also make some of the water bodies become tourist resorts.
Water tourism is a lucrative business and evidence from Kariba, Mutirikwi, Mazvikadei, Chivero and Darwendale show.
This could be replicated and enhanced at other water bodies like Osborne in Mutare, Biri in Chinhoyi and Mazowe. The other project, Kumakomo Spring Water, is at advanced stages and has a potential to compete and carve itself a significant market share against existing water bottlers.
These two projects would play a complementary role in bringing in new revenue to that which comes from raw and treated water sales, consultancy on dam construction and from groundwater that deals with boreholes.
This new thrust would also go a long way in solving the country's paradox of having large and full water bodies conveniently spread across the whole country but still suffering the effects of droughts more frequently particularly in the last 30 years.
Zinwa would be able to fund from its resources the urgent implementation and rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure in communal areas like Chimanimani, Nyanyadzi, Chisumbanje and Mutoko, just but to mention a few.
These developments would overnight change the fortunes of peasant farmers by increasing their outputs and saving them from the harsh effects of droughts.
Interestingly, it would also bring the water authority closer to fulfilling its mandate in water management and its twin goal of improving irrigation infrastructure.
Zinwa believes these projects and endeavours reaffirm its commitment to become a self-sufficient institution that will not rely on government financial support to deliver on its broad mandate.
To that end, the water authority is moving with speed to implement these projects and bring a real difference to farmers, tourists and the economy at large.