Siltation severely affects Chilonga irrigation scheme

By Gay Matambo
GOVERNMENT is in the process of resuscitating Chilonga Irrigation Scheme which was affected by the siltation of Runde River after the heavy rains received last summer.
Climate change has dealt farmers at Chilonga Irrigation Scheme a serious blow after the heavy rains received last summer resulted in massive siltation that changed the course of Runde river, damaging pumps which channel water to the scheme.
However, government has moved in to resuscitate the scheme which resumed operations last year after more than a decade.
“We were benefitting a lot from the irrigation scheme but due to the heavy run off, siltation changed the river course. We hope that the problem will be fixed on time so that we start supplying tomatoes to areas like Mutare and Chipinge like we used to do,” said one farmer.
“If the water supply challenge is fixed, we will be able to take our children to school and food insecurity issues will be a thing of the past in this drought prone area.
“As it is government has brought in excavators to fix the challenge, but our wish is to have a permanent solution to this problem so that every year we don’t keep asking for assistance over this issue,” said another.
“I’m a widow and the scheme was helping me to fend for my family. We wish to have a permanent solution to this perennial problem caused by climate change which is always bedeviling us,” bemoaned another farmer.
The irrigation scheme is a food security hub for communities which include Chipinge South and Bulawayo.
“We now know the solution to this problem and all we need is to be capacitated to be able to deal with it so that the scheme can become viable once more,” said Morgan Chauke, Chilonga irrigation scheme committee member.
The Coordinator of the Irrigation Scheme, Tiani Chilonga praised government for coming to their rescue.
“Our government loves us a lot. That is why they are always coming in to help us whenever we experience this challenge. But those trees have to be removed because they block the water from flowing towards the direction to where the pump is,” he said.
Early this year, government set aside 57 million Zimbabwe dollars for the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes across the country.