Zimbabwe: Siltation Threatens Irrigation Development in Beitbridge


The majority of water bodies, especially small dams and rivers here are heavily affected by siltation, a development that is affecting irrigation development in the drought-prone district.

In general terms, siltation refers to the increased concentration of suspended sediments, and to the increased accumulation of fine sediments on bottoms where they are undesirable, especially fine sand or clay.

According to the department of Agriculture Extension Services (Agritex), Beitbridge has 18 irrigation schemes covering 666 hectares of irrigable land.

The district has at least 32 small dams that are being affected by siltation.

In addition, there are 1 350 registered boreholes and in some cases irrigation schemes rely on boreholes for water, but most of these are constantly breaking down or have succumbed to wear and tear.

Of late, there has been growing concerns from villagers in rural Beitbridge over the state of affairs in water bodies and there are growing calls for Government and development partners to assist them in de-silting major water bodies.

Mrs Norah Mbedzi from Tongwe in (Ward 4) said: “We have a problem of limited irrigation water throughout the year at Tongwe. This is due to the high level of siltation at our local dam.

“The dam is a source of livelihood for people in this ward, but due to the current state of affairs, it can’t hold any substantial amount of water beyond August.

“Our appeal is for Government or its partners to help us in de-silting the dam. Its water carrying capacity is diminishing with each farming season.”

Mrs Mbedzi said besides supplying water to Tongwe project, the water body was also critical for livestock production in the area.

She said the dam was also providing water for domestic use and many other villagers who were into horticulture. Another villager from Beitbridge West Constituency Mrs Thambulo Ncube said rivers and dams were critical components for irrigation development and livestock production.

“We are very worried with diminishing of water sources in our area,” she said.

“You will realise that we get water from either rivers or dams and most of these are now heavily silted. They no longer hold water throughout the year. Our appeal is for Government and development agencies to join hands with communities in addressing siltation challenges.

“In some cases, we need to de-silt the dams and increase their water holding capacity.”

Mrs Ncube said it was important for the community to be proactive in addressing siltation issues.

A farmer at Tongwe irrigation project Mr Habakkuk Ndou said the siltation of their dam (Tongwe) was affecting future expansion of the project.

“We need more water for irrigation so that we may extend our project to accommodate at least 200 plot holders,” he said.

“At the moment we have 75 people, but with more water we can increase productivity.”

Mrs Tshidawo Mbedzi of Tshinavhazwimi said irrigation development would go a long way in uplifting the economies of most households headed by women.

“Our livelihood is hinged on livestock production and when it comes to irrigation farming, you will note that most plot holders at these schemes are women,” she said.

“If we have fully functional projects, we can address some of the social problems in our communities.

“However, the greatest threat to irrigation farming is the siltation of dams and drying up of some boreholes.”

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Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/201906040221.html

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Publish date : 2019-06-04 09:06:55

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