Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
ZIMBABWEANS, especially those in rural areas, are all smiles in anticipation of a bumper harvest owing to heavy rains that have been pounding in the country.
Urban dwellers also know that a good rainy season translates to availability of potable water and less water shedding in towns.
Bulawayo, Harare, Gweru and Victoria Falls residents have in the past been enduring dry taps as the respective local authorities struggled to supply enough clean water.
In Bulawayo some of the supply dams, all located in Matabeleland South had been decommissioned because of depleted water levels.
The same applies to Victoria Falls where low water levels at the pump site on the Zambezi River affected supply.
Recurrent droughts lowered the water table resulting in many rivers and boreholes around the country drying up.
Communities had to share limited water with animals and some farmers lost their cattle as a result of droughts thereby affecting the national herd.
Even some nutritional gardens suffered because weirs, swamps, streams and boreholes from where the famers drew water had dried up.
God literally smiled on his people and the 2020-2021 rainy season has so far been a marvel for all citizens despite isolated incidents of damage on infrastructure and human life.
Some rivers that had not experienced meaningful inflows over the years have been flooded since the start of the season nearly four months ago.
Chronicle has witnessed that in Matabeleland North, notable rivers that have meaningful flows for the first time in years are Masue in Victoria Falls, Matetsi, Lubangwe and Deka which are all between Hwange and Victoria Falls and Inyantue in Dinde.
Some are Mbembesi which cuts across Umguza, Bubi and Lupane Districts, Bubi which feeds Bubi-Lupane Dam, Tshangani which flows from Matabeleland South into Matabeleland North, as well as Umguza, Gwayi and several other streams.
The water supply that people and animals, both wild and livestock have been enjoying lately could soon come to an end once the rainy season ends as all the water has been flowing freely into Zambezi River
Most of the rivers are not dammed, with a few streams having small silted weirs built with the help of the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).
Besides Gwayi-Shangani Dam whose construction in Mabale is underway and at 39 percent and the 40 million cubic metre Bubi-Lupane Dam in Lupane, there are no major dams in the province, raising concerns about lack of water harvesting.
Water harvesting means capturing rain water or runoff for domestic, irrigation and industrial use.
According to Zinwa, the national dam level had risen to 92 percent by Wednesday.
Acting Chief Mvuthu of Mvuthu area outside Victoria Falls, Mr Bishop Matata Sibanda said communities usually face water challenges during the dry season.
“The whole of my chiefdom has no major river but has numerous streams and none of these have a dam or even a weir. Our life has been dependent on rain water and boreholes which dry up during the dry season.
“We wish we could get assistance in blocking one of the streams to build a weir so that we have a source of water for livestock during the dry season.
“We have engaged the MP (Mr Godfrey Dube) who has promised to raise the issue in Parliament so that we may get Government assistance,” he said.
Government this year allocated $4,5 billion towards the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project which is expected to be completed before the end of next year.
Government has also floated a tender for the survey works for the 260km water pipeline route from the dam to Bulawayo, seen as the panacea to Bulawayo’s perennial water challenges.
President Mnangagwa is next week Thursday expected to officiate at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Gwayi-Shangani pipeline as well as the Epping Forest boreholes in Nyamandlovu, marking the start of phase 2 of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo bemoaned lack of water harvesting mechanism in the province.
“Water harvesting is very crucial for reliable water supply. Government is trying to build dams across the country and we have projects such as Gwayi-Shangani Dam which are underway.
“There are plans to identify sites in every district so that there is a dam to supply water during dry season. This year we had good rains but all is lost through run-off. If we had dams, we could have harvested it all for irrigation and other purposes,” said Minister Moyo.
However, Zinwa corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said citizens had been educated on water harvesting.
She said water flowing down the rivers is not necessarily a loss as it will enhance electricity generation at Kariba Dam.
“The filling up of dams this season means there is enhanced water security for domestic, agricultural and industrial use.
“This should then translate to a successful 2021 winter cropping season and improvement of the water situation in urban areas,” she said.
She said most dammed rivers are continuously flowing because of overspills from the respective dams.
“The water flowing downstream cannot be described as a loss since the dams along some of the river systems have already held water enough to meet the needs of the users. In respect of the water flowing into the Zambezi, that water is never a loss but a gain for Lake Kariba. It does not follow that all water in rivers should be trapped and stored, rivers also need to flow to support the needs of people downstream.
“Citizens are largely aware of the importance of water harvesting which Zinwa helped create awareness about and also helped improve through construction of weirs and other rainwater harvesting infrastructure a few years ago.
“To help inculcate the spirit of water harvesting, Zinwa involved communities in the construction of weirs for each district under a model where communities provided labour and other materials while Zinwa did designs,” added Mrs Munyonga.
She said Zinwa also launched model rooftop water harvesting technologies at various public institutions countrywide. — @ncubeleon