The Sunday News
Water has always played a central role in human societies. Water is a key driver of sustainable growth and poverty alleviation as an input to almost all production, in agriculture, industry, energy and, transport, says the World Bank report, Water for Growth and Development (2006).
The report further says water can be a force for destruction, catastrophically through drought, flood, landslides and epidemic, as well as progressively through erosion, inundation, desertification, contamination and disease. Water is quite literally a source of life and prosperity and a cause of death and devastation. This destructive aspect of water, as a consequence of its extraordinary power, mobility, indispensability and unpredictability, is arguably unique.
The report highlights that water resources development and management remain at the heart of the struggle for growth, sustainable development and poverty reduction.
This has been the case in all industrial countries, most of which invested early and heavily in water infrastructure, institutions and management capacity. It remains the case in many developing countries, where investments in water development and management remain an urgent priority. In some developing countries — often the poorest — the challenge of managing their water legacy is almost without precedent.
Water is life, so goes the cliché, and the move by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa to pour resources into the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) is definitely a life changer to the people of Bulawayo and Matabeleland regions. The President was in the city last week for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Gwayi-Shangani pipeline and Epping Forest Borehole project, all meant to augment water provision to the city of Bulawayo.
The projects, funded by Government, came against a background of perennial water problems in Bulawayo which saw residents get water once a week and some residents not getting any drop of water for up to four or more months before the onset of rains.
This was because the existing water supply dams for Bulawayo are in the Mzingwane catchment to the south of the city. The water resources in this catchment are exhausted and yield from existing dams is no longer adequate to meet the city’s water demand.
To the north of the city is the Gwayi catchment and the nearest viable dam site in the catchment is the Gwayi-Shangani dam, 260km away, which is also being constructed by Government. It is envisaged that water will be conveyed from the dam by a pipeline with a series of booster pump stations along. It is also envisaged that eventually the dam yield will be augmented by water pumped from the Zambezi River.
These water projects are certain to change the lives of the people of Bulawayo and Matabeleland region, and their coming to fruition shows President Mnangagwa’s determination to impact positively on the lives of the people of this region, just like he has worked tirelessly to bring development in other parts of the country.
For decades, Matabeleland in its entirety has struggled to realise the dream of the full implementation of the Zambezi Water project.
Halfway through his tenure in office, President Mnangagwa has returned to Matabeleland with an enormous 2018 election manifesto promise.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Gwayi-Shangani pipeline and the commissioning of Epping Forest boreholes accentuates a clear trajectory of tackling the unfinished development tasks in the whole of the Matabeleland region.