Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
COMMUNAL Irrigation schemes are already being developed while commercial ones will follow along the pipeline from Lake Gwayi-Shangani to Bulawayo to spur rural development in five districts of Matabeleland North province.
There are plans not only to provide irrigation water but to also generate hydro-electricity and set up fisheries.
The construction of the Lake Gwayi-Shangani, a major component of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, is among the flagship projects being undertaken by the Government.
Lake Gwayi-Shangani construction is expected to provide a permanent water solution for Bulawayo and Matabeleland region.
The lake, the third largest in land water body after Lake Mutirikwi and Tugwi-Mukosi will be linked to Bulawayo by a 245km pipeline.
The project employs about 500 locals while more will be employed when contractors scale up the laying of the pipeline.
Government identified a vast irrigable land covering 10 000 hectares along the pipeline.
In an update on Bulawayo Water supply, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development identified areas where communal and commercial irrigation schemes will be established.
The Lake Gwayi-Shangani project is expected to be completed by December this year.
The Second Republic has stepped up efforts to fulfil the century-old dream to permanently solve Bulawayo’s perennial water woes as well as transform lives in the Matabeleland region.
In an update, the Ministry said: “Planned in 1966, this component of the project started in earnest in 2021 (the same time the Gwayi-Shangani Bulawayo pipeline project started). By the end of the project, irrigation schemes will be developed along the pipeline route to Ngamo (Hwange), Sawmills (Umguza), Teakland (Tsholotsho) and Nyamandlovu (Umguza). Communal irrigation schemes will also be developed in Binga, Hwange and Lupane.
The Ministry said communal schemes will be managed under the V30 (Vision 2030) Accelerator Model, where each district across the country will have 200 hectares under irrigation with the beneficiaries being locals.
President Mnangagwa launched the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda) Vision 2030 accelerator model programme at Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme last year and the programme is meant to stimulate rural industrialisation through agricultural development.