Blame game: Covid-19 stalled water projects says Govt

THE cash-strapped government has blamed Covid-19 for the stalled water projects around the country notwithstanding some works have been under implementation years before the spreading of the pandemic into Zimbabwe in March.

In the 2020 budget, the government allocated ZWL$2.5 billion towards the water sector, of which, a total of ZWL$239.2 million was availed towards dam construction, upgrading water and sanitation infrastructure and borehole drilling.

“Out of the nine dams earmarked for implementation in the 2020 budget, only five (Marovanyati, Causeway, Gwayi-Shangani, Chivhu and Semwa) are now targeted for implementation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic with Marovanyati Dam and Causeway dams being targeted for completion during the year,” said Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, while presenting the 2020 budget review statement Thursday.

“Substantial works on the other three dams are expected to resume once the current situation improves with Gwayi-Shangani dam expected to be completed in 2021.”

Ncube said in order to ensure sustained work on the accelerated smallholder irrigation rehabilitation and development programme, funds amounting to ZWL$88 million were availed under the budget for 32 irrigation schemes.

“However, adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and procurement delays resulted in minimal progress in the implementation of irrigation development projects,” he said.

He also bemoaned low water levels at the country’s dams as a result of poor rainfall received in the past season.

“Normally by June of each year, dam level would average 70.5% full,” said the finance minister.

“However, as at 19 June 2020, the average national dam levels stood at 48.1% full, mainly attributed to water usage and the current drought. Despite the general receding dam levels, Lake Kariba water levels stood at 40.9% as at 19 June 2020. This current level is significantly higher than in the same period last year of 28.9% and was mainly a result of good rains from catchment areas/countries.”

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