By Siphathisiwe Ncube
Bengo area in Gwanda district in Matabeleland South province is facing severe water shortages due to soil erosion resulting in siltation of supply dams in the area. The dam is at 75% soil erosion siltation which has resulted in the dam only holding water for approximately one and half months or below. As a result, water shortages in the area have proliferated.
This is affecting villagers who use the dam water for horticulture projects, domestic use and livestock drinking.
The dam siltation is due to soil erosion caused by livestock pathways, among other factors. Due to poor livestock control, land has been degraded as livestock pathways turn to small streams during rainy seasons leading to soil erosion.
Matabeleland South Provincial Water Engineer Walter Dube said the viability of Bengo dam has been seriously crippled. The dam has been stalled to almost 25% capacity which means 75% soil erosion has occurred on the water body,
“Due to the high carrying capacity of livestock in the area there has been a lot of soil erosion upstream. As the cattle move, they cause soil erosion which leads to high siltation,” said Eng. Dube. He further added that a lot of challenges related to dam resuscitation, among other factors incapacitation, “There is no way we can talk of resuscitation before we look at establishing silt traps on the tributary streams. “As an institution we do not have a dam scooper firstly and that’s a great setback,” he said.
Eng. Dube said costs for full viability of the dam once again is estimated at approximately US$30 000,, “Conservative works should be constructed which costs around US$8 000 and hiring of dam scoopers and raising dam wall is needed for the resuscitation of the dam at a cost of around US$22 000.“It is sad that in our yearly budget we do not receive such amounts per project which becomes a stalled initiative from the onset therefore we need the private sector to come on board,” added Eng Dube.
Villagers in Bengo had no kind words for the infrastructure development organisation as their load is increasing daily. For Mrs Miriam Mtlokwa, her household duties have been further burdened as she travels long distance to fetch water for domestic use. “Looking at the rains that we received this year it is so sad that no source was able to harvest it for use over time. As a woman, I have the responsibility to look after my household and now l have to walk long distances to fetch water, this affects our other duties of cleaning the homestead and at farming,” said Mrs Mtlokwa.
An official from Gwanda Rural District Council (GRDC) said the role of rehabilitating the dam is that of the DDF who are liable for the state of such infrastructure.
Matabeleland South DDF provincial co-ordinator Mr Moment Malandu said so far the institution has received $40 million dollars which is directed to road rehabilitation although they await more funds to come. “We currently are in the process of fixing roads and we await funding for dams rehabilitation too. Bengo dam will be one of the beneficiaries and we hope that we will get partnerships from the private sector to implement the changes needed for the dams durability,” said Mr Malandu.