Tawanda Mangoma in CHIREDZI
Communities in the drought-hit Sengwe in the Limpopo Valley have implored Government and development partners to help them draw irrigation water from the Mwenezi River to mitigate against hunger that has stalked the area since time immemorial.
They say abundant water in Mwenezi would ensure a thriving irrigation programme that would stem hunger and make the entire Sengwe communal lands food self-sufficient.
Currently, there are only three irrigation schemes across the Limpopo Valley, but they are not operating at full throttle because of fluctuations in the water table as they rely on underground water.
The schemes, namely Magogogwe, Manjinji and Malikango, are sustaining 1 000 households in the area and drawing irrigation water from Mwenezi will see them expanding more than ten-fold, benefiting more families.
Acting Chiredzi Rural District Council chief executive Mr Mikia Majatame last week said his council was determined to ensure that Sengwe communities derive maximum benefits from all irrigation schemes in the district.
“A recent tour of all irrigation schemes in Chiredzi South showed that most of these schemes such as Magogogwe, Manjinji and Malikango have potential to reduce the effects of drought in Sengwe if maximum utilisation is effected,” he said.
“The communities said reliance on underground water has been failing them as they continue to lose crops due to the drying up of boreholes that supply water for irrigation.”
Mr Majatame said there was need for the Zimbabwe National Water Authority to allow communities to access water from Mwenezi River, which is fed by Manyuchi Dam.
“The greatest challenge which is currently prevailing is the is need for massive capital investment for communities to start pumping water from Mwenezi River.”
Chiredzi South National Assembly member Retired Brigadier-General Kalisto Gwanetsa weighed in saying Manyuchi Dam had capacity to irrigate over 15 000ha, but is currently irrigating only 2 000ha in upper Mwenezi.