MASVINGO – Plans by Government to start exploiting Tugwi-Mukosi Dam water have gathered momentum with the Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe having started identification of the more than 25 000hectares to be irrigated by the water body in arid parts of southern Masvingo.
Government last year roped the infrastructural development financial institution as a consultant to identify bankable projects at the reserviour together with investors to spearhead exploitation of the water body’s vast economic potential.
Teams seconded by the bank have already hit the ground running carrying out Environmental Impact Assessments in areas earmarked for irrigation development using Tugwi-Mukosi water.
Masvingo provincial administrator Mr Fungai Mbetsa yesterday IBDZ was on the ground preparing for the anticipated irrigation development in southern Masvingo using Tugwi-Mukosi water.
He said the financial institution has already been to Chingwizi at the Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi where families displaced bt Tugwi-Mukosi are expected to benefit from the dam’s water.
”IDBZ is on the ground identifying irrigable land around Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, the task at the moment is to identify land in surplus of 25 000ha particularly in downstream areas that can be irrigated and the bank which is the consultant at the project is spearheading that,’he said.
”Teams from the bank have already been at Chingwizi carrying out an EIA(Environmental Impact Assessment) because the area is home to part of the land earmarked for irrigation using Tugwi-Mukosi water.
Government made an undertaking to families displaced by the dam in
2014 that they were going to be among the first to benefit from its water through irrigation and this is what is happening.”
Mr Mbetsa said findings by IDBZ will be factored in the crafting of the dam’s master plan that will give a comprehensive picture of the land use patterns at the reserviour and downstream areas.
”The teams that are doing the EIAs are also carrying out things like soil sampling among others to help in the identification of land that will be best to irrigate using Tugwi-Mukosi water,”said Mr Mbetsa.
The Masvingo provincial administrator expressed optimism that the dam’s master plan will be created soon before approval by Cabinet paving the way for actual development at Tugwi-Mukosi and surrounding areas.
Mr Mbetsa emphasised that the dam’s flood victims at Chingwizi remained a top priority for Government in terms of benefiting from the dam’s water. Government will help the families to develop irrigable plots for them to venture into commercial crop production.
Over 3 000 families were relocated from the flooded Tugwi-Mukosi basin in early 2014, in arguably the largest mass relocation of people by Government in post-independent Zimbabwe. The families were resettled at Chingwizi in Mwenezi and have been clamouring to benefit from Tugwi-Mukosi irrigation water as compensation for their relocation from their ancestral homes.
Tugwi-Mukosi is now Zimbabwe’s largest inland dam with a capacity of 1,8 billion cubic metres. The dam-built by Government for close to $300 million-has potential to turn arid parts of southern Masvingo into a perennial greenbelt, through irrigation.
Several future socio-economic projects hinge on the dam whose potential spans agriculture to tourism and electric power generation.
There has been growing concern over Government’s failure to speedily exploit opportunities engendered by Tugwi-Mukosi dam, particularly in agriculture, to bring a permanent panacea to recurrent droughts that plague Masvingo province.