Bongani Ndlovu-Bulawayo Bureau
COMMUNAL irrigation schemes are already being developed while commercial ones will be developed along the pipeline from Lake Gwayi-Shangani to Bulawayo to spur rural development in five districts of Matabeleland North province.
There are plans not just to provide irrigation water but to also generate hydro-electricity and set up fisheries.
The construction of the Lake Gwayi-Shangani, a major component of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, is among the flagship projects being undertaken by the Government.
Lake Gwayi-Shangani construction is expected to provide a permanent water solution for Bulawayo and Matabeleland region.
The lake, the third largest in land water body after Lake Mutirikwi and Tugwi-Mukosi will be linked to Bulawayo by a 245 km pipeline.
The project employs about 500 locals while more will be employed when contractors scale up the laying of the pipeline
Government identified a vast irrigable land covering 10 000 hectares along the pipeline.
In an update on the Bulawayo Water supply, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development identified areas where communal and commercial irrigation schemes will be established.
The Lake Gwayi-Shangani project is expected to be completed by December this year. The Second Republic has stepped up efforts to fulfil the century-old dream to permanently solve Bulawayo’s perennial water woes as well as transform lives in the Matabeleland region.
In an update, the Ministry said: “Planned in 1966, this component of the project started in earnest in 2021 (the same time the Gwayi-Shangani Bulawayo pipeline project started). By the end of the project, irrigation schemes will be developed along the pipeline route to Ngamo (Hwange), Sawmill (Umguza), Teakland (Tsholotsho) and Nyamandlovu (Umguza). Ccommunal irrigation schemes will also be developed in Binga, Hwange and Lupane.
The Ministry said communal schemes will be managed under the V30 (Vision 2030) Accelerator Model, where each district across the country will have 200 hectares under irrigation with the beneficiaries being locals.
President Mnangagwa launched the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda) Vision 2030 accelerator model programme at Bubi- Lupane Irrigation Scheme last year and the programme is meant to stimulate rural industrialisation through agricultural development.
It has already proved to be a success story as the Bubi-Lupane Irrigation scheme beneficiaries are already enjoying the fruits of their labour. The beneficiaries are set to be paid a dividend of nearly US$1 000 and $600 000 each after delivering 900 tonnes of maize to the Grain Marketing Board this year.
This is the second time the scheme members are being paid a dividend as they received $250 000 each in December last year after they harvested a wheat crop.
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Also, the villagers are paid monthly salaries of $25 000 which assists with their upkeep.
“Planned in 1912, the Lake Gwayi-Shangani construction was accelerated in 2020 under the Second Republic. Construction works are at 67,8 percent. At the end of the project, an additional 200 mega litres per day of potable water will be made available to the City of Bulawayo. The coming on board of Lake Gwayi-Shangani will result in freeing water from the current dams supplying the City of Bulawayo for rural and irrigation development in Matabeleland South Province,” said the Ministry.