The Dam to be completed next year’
President Mugabe [Harare Bureau]
Construction of Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam will be completed next year while negotiations for funding for the
Zambezi Water Project were under way with the Export and Import Bank of China, President Mugabe said .
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces made the announcement during the commemoration of the World Water Day held at Great Zimbabwe.
The commemorations are running under the theme “Water and Food Security”.
“My Government has adopted water management policies that mitigate against droughts through the development of reservoirs. The mighty Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam, which is one such project within the province (Masvingo) will be completed next year.
“It is expected to enhance food security not just for the Masvingo region, but also for the entire nation and beyond. The 25 000 hectares planned for irrigation under the first phase of the programme will also improve livelihoods of the local people through irrigation and employment of the new schemes,” President Mugabe said.
He said the challenge now was to ensure that an Italian contractor working on Tokwe-Mukorsi “is closely supervised” to ensure that work was completed on time.
“Once the dam is finished, our chiefs should ensure that our people conserve the ecosystem that sustains the quality and quantity of the water in the dam,” President Mugabe said.
He dissuaded people from cutting down trees in the basin as forests reduce the effects of floods and droughts.
“They also prevent soil erosion and desertification. Our Save River is gone! We need to go back to the basics, crop rotation, mulching and contouring,” President Mugabe said.
He said the natural environment was a life system that required water for survival and underscored the importance of water to the country’s socioeconomic development.
President Mugabe said poor land management resulted in silted rivers and dams and the drying up of wetlands.
“When this happens, rains become erratic and there is a more frequent failure of crops resulting in food insecurity,” he added.
President Mugabe bemoaned the increased cases of water pollution emanating from municipal and industrial waste.
“A case in point is the water pollution at Lake Chivero where the City of Harare has to use more than eight different water treatment chemicals. This is costly. Inadequate water supplies to cities and towns, when this occurs, can lead to water-borne diseases and at times the unnecessary loss of lives. We must work together as a nation to prevent such eventualities,” he said.
President Mugabe said rampant and uncontrolled use of mercury and cyanide was polluting water bodies.
Use of such chemicals, he said, resulted in the death of fish and other aquatic life.
Mercury also leads to stunted brain growth in children leading to unproductive adults.
“The advent of climate change, the water and food nexus, has become critical. The need for effective and reliable irrigation systems is a must if the country is to maintain its momentum in rebuilding its agriculture and resultant food security. Zimbabwe generally has abundant water resources in the form of dams but unfortunately the water goes unused,” President Mugabe said.
He said it was critical in the short-term to fully exploit the country’s irrigation potential and combat extreme weather conditions created by climate change by adopting requisite technologies like the drip irrigation system.
On the Zambezi Water Project, President Mugabe said: “It has its ups and downs. I am glad it is now en route. With more funding we can bring it to fruition.”
Earlier on Water Resources Development and Management Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo had hinted that funding for the Zambezi Water Project had almost been secured.
“The Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project has now almost secured funding from China’s Export and Import Bank. I hope project funding would be unveiled this year,” he said.
Minister Nkomo said completion of the Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam and the Zambezi Water Project would result in increased irrigation while having multiplier benefits to the country.