Water harvesting and irrigation in Zimbabwe

Photo credit: Bulawayo

Due to  high levels of illegal gold panning, siltation is reducing the water holding capacity of the major dams in Matabeleland South

Zimbabwe Seeks to Water Crops With Irrigation Investment

By Marko Phiri

Excerpt

The government declared a crop failure in March, the month when farmers expect to be harvesting maize, with more than three quarters of crops lost in some parts of the south.

Heavy rains returned again from late March into April, compounding the misery for farmers across the country.

Their struggle with weather extremes has prompted a renewed focus on rainwater harvesting and irrigation, with the government now seeking investment in new infrastructure.

Earlier in the year, President Robert Mugabe – who has long touted agriculture as the country’s economic bulwark – lamented Zimbabwe’s inability to harness rainwater effectively, according to state media.

“Rains fall for two months and go but we lack water harvesting. At the end of the day, we have the maize crop wilting faster than other crops. If we have dams, we (can) resort to irrigation,” he was quoted as saying in February.

 

Many existing dams – like the 50 or so in Zimbabwe’s two Matabeleland provinces – are old and failing to capture enough water, while irrigation schemes are in a state of disrepair, according to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa who has been tasked with mobilising resources for irrigation.

Elisha Moyo, principal climate change researcher at the environment and climate ministry, said investment in irrigation should not be seen as a “standalone initiative” but as part of a sustainable solution to water issues.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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