Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project Update

by Developed Africa 29. October 2014 09:00
The serious water shortages that have affected the 700,000 inhabitants of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe since late 2013 have improved to an extent in the first half of 2014, but the proposed long-term solution still remains a long way off.
The situation in February of this year can be seen from the table above, but this illustrates an increase of 10% of total combined carrying capacity after a period of extremely heavy rainfall. In fact, in 2013 both Inyankuni and Upper Ncema had to be decommissioned from the supply in 2013 due to lack of water. This situation had made monitored water rationing necessary which has only worsened the business situation in the city, once an industrial hub but now suffering with a 90% unemployment rate. Fortunately, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has stated that the short-term situation has significantly improved.
The Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) is still the best option to provide a long-term solution for the inhabitants of Bulawayo." - Minister Kasukuwere
This ambitious US$600 million project was first proposed over a century ago and in its current form was subject of a economic and engineering analysis by the Climate Resilience Infrastructure Development Facility in 2013, which determined that the project was not a viable, cost-effective option. This finding was primarily based on the fact that the energy required to pump water on the uphill sections of the proposed pipelines would lead to a cost of up to US$4 per cubic metre, as compared to the current national average of US$0.30.
Despite these problems work continued on the first stage of MZWP, the Gwayi-Shengani Dam, until March 2014 when work was halted due to lack of funds. Minister Kasukuwere has confirmed that this stage needs another US$90 million to bring it to completion, before the pipelines joining the Gwayi-Shengani Dam to the the Zambezi River and Bulawayo itself can be started. It must be hoped that funding can be found so that the water security of Bulawayo can confirmed in the long term. 

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