Waters of life . . . Peripheral communities draw benefit from yet-to-be completed Tuli-Manyange dam

The Chronicle

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter

COMMUNITIES living in areas around incomplete Tuli-Manyange Dam in Gwanda District, Matabeleland South Province, have started benefiting from the massive Government project as they are now accessing water for their livestock throughout the year.

The dam, with a holding capacity of 35 million cubic metres of water, is a significant milestone under the Second Republic in improving the livelihood of rural communities as it will provide raw water for irrigation purposes.

It is envisaged that once Tuli-Manyange Dam is complete, at least 2 000 hectares will be put under irrigation. The dam is expected to service Vela, Guyu Business Centre, Ntalale Business Centre, Chelesa Business Centre, Sizhubane Barracks, Manama Mission and Business Centre, Sebasa and Mankonkoni irrigation schemes.

The project is being spearheaded by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) while China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) was contracted to do civil works. The project highlights Government’s investments in key and strategic water bodies around the country.  The construction of new water bodies will help support the switch from rain-fed agriculture and help food-insecure communities through provision of water for both irrigation and fisheries.

The country is largely an agriculture-based economy, with most of its industrial output back-linking to the sector. For years, communities surrounding the Tuli-Manyange Dam site have encountered challenges as they would helplessly watch water flowing along Tuli River without being harvested.

Under the Second Republic, financial resources have been channelled towards the dam project whose idea was mooted in the 1960s to provide water to surrounding communities in the semi-arid region characterised by low rainfall patterns. 

While the preliminary works for the construction of the dam started earlier this year, it is already making an impact in local communities.

Zinwa has since completed the construction of a coffer dam, which is about 3 metres high. The aim of the coffer dam is to store water which will be used for the construction of the main dam wall, which will be 30 metres high.

Before contractors took an annual Christmas break on December 3, they had already dug 7 metres of the dam’s foundation.

Significant progress has already been made in the construction of a saddle wall which upon completion will be around 400 metres high.

A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited Tuli Manyange Dam site.

Construction site of the Tuli-Manyange Dam in Gwanda District yesterday

Zinwa site general supervisor Mr Elisha Zvarevashe said the construction of a coffer dam has improved access to water for communities.

“This year, the coffer dam assisted the community in many ways because during the dry period we understand that community members were struggling to access water for their livestock,” he said.

“Following the completion of this coffer dam, the community has been able to provide water to their livestock throughout the year. They are also doing a lot of fisheries, which enhanced their nutrition in communities.”

Mr Zvarevashe said construction works are still at preliminary stages, which includes digging of the dam’s foundation. 

“The dam wall will be a concrete acre and it will be 33 metres high and 12 metres wide. We have already started excavating for the dam’s foundation. The foundation will be 8 metres going down, but at the end of the construction season we had hit 7 metres,” he said. 

“This is mainly for storing water for use at our camp, the same water will also be used when we start constructing the main dam wall”

Construction site of the Tuli-Manyange Dam in Gwanda District yesterday

Mr Zvarevashe said significant progress has been made in the construction of a saddle dam.

A saddle dam is the extension of a dam wall which is expected to hold run-away water in case the dam starts spilling.

“We construct a saddle dam so that we impound water that is likely to spill over using the dam wall sides. So the saddle dam will be 33 metres as well, and by doing so we will ensure that we don’t lose any water in the dam,” said Mr Zvarevashe.

 “This dam should be able to hold 33 million cubic metres. So, we have two saddle dams on each side of the dam wall.”

One of the villagers, Mrs Daisy Ncube said the community had given up on the construction of Tuli-Manyange Dam.

Mrs Ncube said they are already seeing the benefits of the project even before its completion.

“In the past, we were having challenges with access to water, especially for our livestock during the dry season. Tuli River would dry up and we would be forced to dig wells on the river so that our livestock can have water, but this year, we didn’t encounter the same challenge,” she said.

“We had water throughout the year as there is a small dam wall that was constructed on the dam site. It really alleviated our problems.”

Mrs Ncube said she is optimistic that the dam construction would be expedited so that the community can have sustainable irrigation projects.

She said the rain fed farming was no longer sustainable due to erratic rainfall patterns.

Mrs Ncube said fisheries is one of the benefits that they have enjoyed since the construction of the coffer dam.

“As we speak, my daughter-in-law has gone fishing. So, I can say we are already seeing the potential that this dam has in terms of addressing our plight and benefits that will come upon its completion,” she said

Another villager, Mrs Maangira Tadire said: “We are happy that the dam is now being constructed. This year, we didn’t have the challenges that we used to have in the past due to availability of water at the dam site.”

She said since the advent of the Second Republic, there has been tremendous progress in terms of the dam construction.

“This dam was planned a long time ago, but nothing was happening for years until the Second Republic ignited our hope. Once it’s completed, we will benefit from the greenbelt that will be created,” said Ms Tadire.

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Article Source: The Chronicle

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