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August 30, 2008

Dam construction project in Swaziland to increase irrigable land

A project to build three dams in Swaziland will result in about 6,500 heactares of irrigable land. The Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project (LUSIP) is a poverty alleviation initiative implemented under the supervision of the Swaziland Water and Development Enterprise (SWADE).

The project is funded by a consortium that includes the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), European Union (EU), European Investment Bank (EIB), Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), African Development Bank (ADB), Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), International Development and Cooperation Fund (ICDF) and the government of Swaziland.

Involved in the project is the construction of dams on the Mhlatuzane and Golome Rrivers. Saddle Dam will form an off-river reservoir to store water diverted from wet season flood flows in the Usuthu River.

During the first eight years, the project will construct the dams and a distribution system from the dams, together with on-farm works, to irrigate a net irrigable area of approximately 6 500 hectares.

After completion of the first phase, government intends to expand the project into a second phase, during which the water delivery system shall be extended and an area of further approximately 5 000 hectares shall be developed.

The goals of the project include the reduction of poverty and sustained improvement in the standard of living of the population in the project area through commercialization and intensification of agriculture. The two key stated purposes of the project are the integration of smallholder farmers into the commercial economy through the provision of irrigation infrastructure, development of the policy and legal framework for smallholder irrigation as well as the establishment of farmer-managed irrigation institutions.

The other purpose is sustainable improvement in environmental health in the project area to ensure that the population derives the full benefits of agricultural commercialisation.

SWADE says that the LUSIP project has the following outputs with a completion date of 31 March 2012 and a closing date of 30 September 2012:

* Infrastructure with ability to impound, store and distribute 155 million cubic metres of water per annum;

* farmer managed institutions, household members with access to about 2.5-3.5 hectares of farm land, develop 6 500 hectares net of intensive, commercial and irrigated agriculture;

* all households in the project area have access to potable water and sanitation facilities and all negative impacts of the project are mitigated (as an example, a total of 186 homesteads will be affected by the construction of the project's bulk infrastructure. Of these homesteads, 120 will be displaced and therefore require resettlement).

Swazi Observer

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