Opec to fund irrigation rehabilitation efforts
THE Government is negotiating a $20 million package for dam construction with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).
The funding is expected to finance development of water bodies to support the rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation schemes in the country.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said this while responding to questions in Parliament last week.
“As a result of this relationship I want to say that with Opec we are going to be signing a $20m loan fund towards irrigation to support rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation schemes.
“Every step we take is very important and we must build on the success of whatever we undertake to do,” he said.
Presently, the minister said, the water situation was bad throughout the country whether in wet areas or originally semi-arid areas.
“Obviously, we need to respond to that problem by building more storage dams as well by basically trying to conserve water and also try to respect environmental considerations,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said some of the rivers have dried up because they were heavily silted.
“Once they are silted, they do not keep water. All the water runs away. These are issues that as we go forward, we should try to address.”
Climate change experts have suggested irrigation as the panacea to drought due to erratic rainfall patterns being experienced in Sub Saharan Africa.
And due to the adverse effects of climate change, food production has been predicted to decline by 50 percent by 2050.
In the 2016 national budget, Minister Chinamasa noted that the challenges related to unpredictable rainfall patterns due to climate change demand that the country invests in irrigation development as well as maximising on use of existing irrigation facilities.
Against this background, he said in the medium term, the Government was implementing the Climate Resilient National Water Resources and Irrigation Master Plan, with the objective of in-depth integration of climate change modelling with development and management of water resources and irrigation infrastructure.
He said the objective of the Government interventions was to ensure that the current total 220 000 hectares of installed irrigation capacity is functional.
And in pursuance of the above target, a total of $2.6 million was availed in 2015 towards completion of 13 irrigation schemes covering about 635 hectares.