Kwekwe District faces critical water shortage: study shows

By Chipo Gudhe

In Kwekwe District, a devastating interaction between climate phenomena and environmental degradation is threatening the sustainability of water resources, Johnson Mikuku, a planner at Ncube Burrow Consultancy leading Zibagwe Rural District Council (ZRDC) master plan programme.

Mikuku revealed in a recent study that the district is suffering from severe water shortages due to siltation in major dams, amplified by the current El Niño-induced drought.

“So part of our findings show the district has critical shortage of water, we have so many water bodies in the district but they are silting. Some irrigation schemes which were operating 10 to 20 years ago have stopped functioning mainly because of siltation of dams. Dams under threat from silting completely we have Somalala Dam, Somalala Irrigation is now out. We have irrigation in Exchange, Silobela the dam is now 61% about 39% is silting. We have Totororo Dam which is completely silted. The dam is gone and we have artisanal mining right inside the dam. We have Ngondoma and the dam is silted. Ngondoma Irrigation is under threat the holding capacity is around 51% of that dam,” he said.

According to Mikuku, some irrigation schemes that were operational two decades ago have ceased to function due to the siltation of dams, a problem currently intensified by the ongoing drought conditions associated with El Niño.

“We have cases like the Somalala Dam, where the irrigation system has completely halted, and the Totororo Dam, which is entirely silted and now hosts artisanal mining activities,” he noted.


The study spearheaded by Mikuku has cast a spotlight on the dire situation, proposing significant changes to the spatial planning of the district. One of the key suggestions includes enlarging buffer zones around major water bodies to safeguard them from further degradation.

“Our findings are directing us to make proposals to the master plan to increase buffer zones to protect these critical water sources, particularly at places like Gwenzi Dam, which supplies water to Zhombe Service Centre and the Mission Hospital. Currently, the dam is 69% silted, primarily due to impacts from communal farming and artisanal mining, these are the two problems causing this siltation.  The buffer zones will make sure that no human activity will take place along water courses,” Mikuku said.



Mikuku, who is instrumental in drafting the ZRDC Master Plan, emphasized the pivotal role of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in uncovering these critical issues. “Our use of GIS has been transformative, allowing us to pinpoint the extensive siltation affecting our water bodies. This technology is crucial as we reassess how much water is available for agriculture and how we can better manage these resources in the face of climate variability,” he said.



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