Walter Mswazie in Masvingo
MUSHANDIKE Irrigation Scheme in Masvingo is facing water shortages with reports that its supply dam — Mushandike — is drying up due to heavy siltation despite the area having experienced heavy rains last summer season.
The irrigation scheme is located 25 kilometres along the Masvingo-Beitrbridge highway and is one of the major suppliers of horticultural produce to the city. Speaking during an Oxfam-organised dialogue workshop in Masvingo last Wednesday, farmers from the irrigation scheme said their businesses were under threat from the dwindling water levels.
A farmer, Mr Bernard Marangi said about 500 farmers at the irrigation scheme were set to be affected by the water shortages.
He said the dam was now heavily silted, mainly due to activities such as stream bank cultivation that are practiced by settlers along Mushandike river.
He appealed to the Government to help scoop the dam to improve its carrying capacity.
“We are running the risk of being left with no water at the irrigation scheme. The only dam that we depend on is now heavily silted. There are illegal settlements upstream and these people cause serious soil erosion and the sand is being deposited in the dam. Some of the settlers are practising stream bank cultivation, worsening the situation,” he said.
Mr Marangi said they were told that 40 percent of the dam was now covered with sand. Another farmer, Ms Gladys Gumbochuma said their businesses were going to suffer due to lack of water.
“We appeal to the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development to assist us in this regard. This is our livelihood and if we lose out, we will suffer,” she said.
She said the Government once offered to construct a canal from Muzhwi Dam in Mashava to supply water to the irrigation scheme but nothing has been done.
“Some officials came to Mushandike in 2015 and offered to construct a 30-kilometre canal which was to draw water from Muzhwi Dam in Mashava but nothing has materialised. We therefore appeal to the powers that be to assist us with the construction of the said canal in case Mushandike Dam dries up,” she said.
Speaking at the same occasion, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development who asked not to be named, said modalities were being worked out to start the construction of the canal and assured farmers that feasibility studies by engineers will be done before the end of the month.
“It is true that our ministry offered to construct a canal from Muzhwi Dam to Mushandike Irrigation to provide water to the irrigation scheme. We are working on that. Our engineers will come soon, two weeks from now, for feasibility studies, get me right, I have not said for the construction. Definitely you will have the canal,” said an official.