COMPLETION of Marovanyati Dam in Buhera will ameliorate storage of water in times of surplus and its release in times of scarcity, thus ensuring efficient management of the finite precious liquid which is unevenly distributed and subject to large seasonal fluctuations. Marovanyati is anchored on Mwerihari River, and its engineering fits squarely in the concept of water resources management and harmonisation of the natural hydrological regime with human needs for water and water-related services.
Though the project stalled for 10 years since suspension of works in 2007 due to funding bottlenecks, the good news is that adequate financial resources have been mobilised for its completion in 18 months. It was allocated $8,2 million in the 2017 budget and $2 million was released in June 2017 to the contractor, China Jiangxi International Corporation. Construction is in full throttle, with the project now at 60 percent.
At least $33 million is required. The dam’s core trench is 30 metres high and 470m long, with an estimated reservoir volume exceeding 50 million cubic metres, which is enough for multi-purpose like irrigation, domestic and industrial uses, thermoelectric power, fish farming and other in stream water uses. Certainly, Marovanyati will be a vital cog in the development of Buhera — an entirely communal district — whose quest for growth is being affected by a blend of erratic rains and brutal dry spell.
The impact of investing in this gigantic water reservoir and its potential to ameliorate development and overhauling the agricultural complexion of the district is inescapable. Development of Buhera hinges on Marovanyati Dam. The engineering of the dam is a vital part of Zim-Asset and Government must prioritise the project since demand for fresh water — a basic human right — is high in the impoverished and dry-prone district.
Irrigation projects spanning 3 600 hectares have been earmarked on its completion, and will help prevent the migration of rural people to the cities, while giving them a higher standard of living in their native areas. Expansion of Murambinda into a town entails high population growth with a corresponding demand for water to equalise basic civic services such as safe drinking water, sanitation and industrial use.
This investment in water will pay off in several ways, and Government should allocate all required financial resources to Marovanyati in the 2018 national budget. The link between poverty and water resources in Buhera is discernible. The district has some folks surviving on less than $1 per day and this coincides approximately with the number of those without access to safe drinking water. As we celebrate the milestone, the project planners and engineers should be mindful of associated social and environmental costs.
Understanding, protection and restoration of ecosystems at river basin level is essential for faster equitable human development and the welfare of all species. Avoiding impacts through good site selection and project design should be a priority. A lot has changed since 2003 when the project commenced and now when the project has resumed, such that the project planners should consider environmental impacts along with engineering criteria when making choices among alternatives.
Some social and human impacts involving displaced families and host communities where families are resettled should also be rectified through incentives and livelihoods reconstruction.