Climate/Environment

 Gvt, UNDP pours US$1m into rare Mwenezi irrigation scheme

BRILLIANT MUKARO

MWENEZI –  The Government in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has injected  in a total of US$1.1 million for the establishment of  a 156 hectare irrigation scheme in Mwenezi.

The Pikinini-Jamwanda irrigation scheme which is located in Ward 14  under chief Mawarire is set to improve livelihoods in the drought prone area which was heavily affected by this year’s El Nino induced dry spell.

Chief Mawarire told The Midweek Watch during a tour of the project last week that the development had been an elusive dream since the completion of the construction of Manyuchi Dam in 1987.

He said his area had been hard hit by drought since it is in agro- ecological region 5 despite being near the giant water body which has been a source of water for the privately owned Mwenezana Estates for its sugarcane production.

“I am grateful that the irrigation project is about to be completed. It has been in the pipeline since 1987. We have been suffering of hunger despite being close to the dam.

“We hope it will bring to an end the gnawing hunger that had become part of us”, said Mawarire.

UNDP communications associate, Anesu Freddy said part of the US$ 1million was used for feasibility and design studies to establish the scheme and construction of a 9km electricity power line together with transformers and covering the costs that were incurred in concreting to the grid.

The government has also installed a pivot sprinkler system which has already been tested.

The irrigation scheme is unique as the pumps that feed into it floats above the water are supported by a pontoon (base or platform).

A pontoon is  a flat-bottomed boat or portable float used in building a floating temporary bridge.

The pontoon allows the pumps to shift upwards or downwards depending on the water levels.

Freddy said the project which took seven years to complete is dubbed the Climate Resilient Livelihoods in Southern Zimbabwe and will be implemented in Masvingo, Matebeleland South and Manicaland provinces.

 The project which has US$48 million set aside is funded by the UNDP, the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and the Green Climate Fund.

He said the project has managed to put up 12 automated weather stations, 9 rain gauges and 5 hydrological water gauges.

The facilities are to give comprehensive information to farmers about trends in weather patterns to maximise production for farmers.

“This project is funded by UNDP, GOZ and the Green Climate Fund who poured in US$48 million. This irrigation project however cost US$1.1 million. We have put 12 weather stations and 9 rain gauges across the 3 provinces that we operate in,” said Freddy.

Ministry of Agriculture and Lands provincial focal person for GCF projects Rangarirai Mutusva applauded the government and UNDP for the facility saying it will not only improve nutrition but will improve the economy of the poverty hit district.

“As a ministry we are happy with this project, it will not only help improve nutrition but will improve the economic prospects of this district which is prone to drought more frequently,” said Mutusva.

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