Dam water levels in the country’s major catchment areas are still above average despite the persistent dry conditions, the latest Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) report says.
This comes as Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Responsible for Cropping and Mechanisation Cde Davis Marapira yesterday called on farmers to use better systems that use less water for irrigation.
Statistics from Zinwa showed that as of December 31, most catchment areas commanded high percentages of water with Mazowe, Manyame and some parts of Save recording water levels above 80 percent full.
Of the 21 catchment areas in the country, water levels from 14 of them are more than 50 percent full.
Dam levels in the Mazowe catchment, which covers mainly the Mashonaland Central province, stand at 97 percent full.
Mwenje, Mwarazi and Mufurudzi are some of the major dams in the catchment.
Dams in the Manyame catchment area (Mashonaland West) are currently at 90,4 percent full, above the expected average of 76,7 percent, while the Save catchment area is at 85 percent full.
Water supplies for irrigation in the Lowveld and Manicaland are catered for by the Save catchment area.
Dams in the Gwayi catchment in Matabeleland North are slightly below the expected average with a record of 43,1 percent full.
The report also says that a handful of dams in catchment areas such as Runde (20,8 percent) and Mzingwane (11,8 percent) were below 50 percent.
Deputy Minister Marapira said some irrigation schemes in the most affected areas had since stopped working.
“Some irrigation schemes across the country particularly in Masvingo have stopped functioning because we no longer have water in our reserves and we encourage farmers to utilise and save the water they have for irrigation purposes,” he said.
“Reservoirs in most catchments have silted therefore they are drying up quickly. Our efforts towards irrigation are a waste of time if siltation is not addressed immediately.”
He added: “Effects of climate change are being felt everywhere across the country and El Nino is a catastrophe that will continue till 2017 so we need to act fast and protect our water sources. As we speak, Kariba right now is heavily silted along with most feeding rivers in the country such as Sanyati River.”
Deputy Minister Marapira said Government was taking steps to manage the situation.
“We have done a lot of resuscitation of irrigation schemes across the provinces and so far we have completed eight irrigation systems,” he said.
“We also need to change the whole system of irrigation from the old and water wasting Pharaoh system to modernised water serving systems like centre pivot which suit climate change. Measures will be taken to ensure that areas which were once flourishing with irrigation are revamped and put to good use.”