|Editorial Comment: Continue investing in dam construction, irrigation|
|Monday, 30 July 2012 00:00|
This was threatening the completion of what will become Zimbabwe’s largest inland dam, with a capacity to hold more than 1,8 billion cubic metres of water.
Now that there is agreement on this issue and land has been made available to resettle the families living around the dam site, we expect to see movement towards the completion of the dam on schedule by the end of next year.
We applaud the agreement entered into between Government and the Development Trust of Zimbabwe which will avail 68 000 hectares of land at Nuanetsi Ranch for resettling the 4 000 families.
We hope that Government will also find the money soon to compensate the villagers so that they have a head-start at their new settlement, while work progresses at the dam site without any hindrances.
The families need to be resettled before the onset of the rainy season and they should start preparing to move from the dam site.
We are well aware that people will naturally resist being moved from a place that they have called home for years and which contains remains of their loved ones but we believe these are the negative aspects of development which will, however, be far outweighed by the benefits.
The benefits of the dam in this dry and arid region of Masvingo, will no doubt, be immense.
National projects of such magnitude will obviously make a huge impact and we believe the resettled families could still be able to benefit from the dam and embark on irrigation and other such projects to sustain and transform their lives.
When complete, the dam will irrigate about 25 000 hectares of land and its flood area straddles over 9 600 hectares.
The water from the dam must not only benefit sugar cane farmers in the Lowveld, but the immediate benefits must also be felt by the people of Chivi and surrounding areas.
In fact, people have been resisting relocation as they also want a share of proceeds from the dam and we believe they are right and must benefit.
Besides directly benefiting the people of Chivi and surrounding areas, completion of dam would boost sugar cane production in the Lowveld by resettled farmers, resulting in increased sugar production for the nation.
It is envisaged that Tokwe-Murkosi, together with other dams in the province such as Lake Mutirikwi, Bangala, Siya and Muzhwi will form what is known as the Lake System of Masvingo.
All the water will be flowing southwards and more irrigation schemes would be established for the people.
Apart from irrigation, there will also be opportunities in eco-tourism which will obviously create employment for the people of Masvingo.
There must be a proper plan for the use of the water from the dam for development of the communities and the nation at large.
Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in the world which has invested so much in the construction of dams, but sadly water from the dams is never fully utilised for agricultural production, especially in times of drought.
There is a need for a paradigm shift towards massive investment in irrigation infrastructure so that the country moves away from rain-fed agriculture.
Tokwe-Murkosi therefore presents that opportunity given the network of canals and pump-stations that draw water from Lake Mutirikwi to the Lowveld.
After completing the Tokwe-Murkosi Dam, Government needs to move to Matabeleland North province, show the same commitment and finish the long-awaited Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project which has the potential of turning the arid-Matabeleland provinces into a greenbelt.
Water is life and Government needs to keep investing in dam construction and irrigation infrastructure for the benefit of the nation.