Zimbabwe, like any other country, has not been spared the effects of climate change. In recent years, the country has experienced extreme weather conditions ranging from heat waves, droughts, cyclones to flooding. These extreme weather patterns have left sad tales of crop and animal losses, poor harvests for farmers relying on rains and severe water shortages in both urban and rural areas. All these point to the potentially devastating effects that climate change can inflict on any country’s socio-economic development.
With this in mind, Government through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has in recent years invested substantially in the construction of infrastructure around the country to create a water secure and drought proof Zimbabwe. More projects are underway as ZINWA forges ahead to help Zimbabwe withstand and mitigate the impact of climate change with particular emphasis on mitigating the impacts of floods and droughts. The construction of the new water infrastructure is consistent with Section 5 of the ZINWA Act which mandates ZINWA to “take appropriate measures to minimise the impact of droughts, floods and other hazards” in the country. It is also in line with the benchmarks that the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) has set for the attainment of water and food security in Zimbabwe; with irrigation expected to play a highly central role.
So over the years, ZINWA has been working tirelessly to put together a solid infrastructure base that would allow for the establishment of a country that is water secure now and in the future. That water infrastructure base should provide a springboard for the country’s socio-economic take-off towards Vision 2030. The water infrastructure that ZINWA has been and currently is working on seeks to address issues of equitable access to water by all citizens for both domestic and commercial water use.
Some of the infrastructure that ZINWA has constructed includes Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, Bubi-Lupane Dam, Marowanyati Dam, Wenimbi Pipeline, Mutange Dam, Matezva Dam, Mtshabezi Pipeline and Mtshabezi Pipeline water off-takes. These pieces of infrastructure have gone a long way in improving Zimbabwe’s ability and capacity to alleviate the impact of drought as they provide irrigation water to various communities around the country. In addition ZINWA has also constructed weirs to improve access to water by the rural communities.
ZINWA, working closely with communities, managed to successfully complete 48 weirs in different districts of the country. Under the programme, to bring water security for rural communities, locals would provide labour and materials such as sand, bricks and rocks for the construction of weirs while ZINWA would provide technical assistance that included drawings, designs and supervision of the construction work. The 48 completed weirs have already brought relief to the beneficiary communities who now have water to supplement their rain fed crops, water for the establishment of small gardens, water for dip tanks and water for their livestock; improving food security in the process. Under the same programme, ZINWA has also successfully established two water off-takes along the Mtshabezi Pipeline to allow communities living along the pipeline to access water and establish small irrigation schemes.
Going forward, ZINWA is already constructing a number of dams in different parts of Zimbabwe to further hedge the country against the impact of droughts. Among these dams are Semwa Dam in Rushinga which is capable of irrigating 12 000 hectares of land in the arid district and also provide a reliable source of raw water for the growing Rushinga Growth Point. Also recently completed is Marowanyati Dam in Murambinda, Buhera with a capacity of 50 million cubic metres of water. The dam is expected to irrigate 1 250 hectares of land in the dry district of Buhera.
Construction of Gwayi-Tshangani Dam is also underway. The dam, located in the Hwange District of Matabeleland North Province, is set to become the country’s third largest inland water body after Tugwi Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi which are both in Masvingo Province. With a capacity of 650 million cubic meters of water, Gwayi-Tshangani Dam is part of the long term solutions to the water challenges that have perennially afflicted the City of Bulawayo. It is a vital and first component of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP). A pipeline expected to be constructed between the dam and Bulawayo will pave way for the establishment of a greenbelt in the drought susceptible province of Matabeleland North. Gwayi-Tshangani will also produce six megawatts of electricity.
Also under construction is Tuli-Manyange Dam in Matabeleland South Province. The dam is being constructed to provide irrigation water to the Gwanda and Gwaranyemba Communities. The project consists of the dam, a canal and a mini hydro-electric plant. With a capacity of 33 million cubic meters of water, Tuli-Manyange Dam will irrigate 1000 hectares of arable land in the region which traditionally receives very low rains and is susceptible to successive droughts.
Construction of Chivhu Dam, Siverstroom Dam, Causeway Dam and Bindura Dam is also underway to help enhance the country’s irrigation capabilities and improve water supplies in urban areas.