THE 2017/18 rainfall season is expected to generate between 18 billion to 24 billion cubic metres of water at a time when the country’s dams can take in 14 billion cubic metres, Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri (pictured) said yesterday. by VENERANDA LANGA
Presenting a ministerial statement on the 2017/18 hydrological forecast in the National Assembly, Muchinguri said the situation may result in flooding in some areas, as most dams were already 70% full.
“Our forecast is that we are expecting mostly normal to above normal rains culminating in high river flows and high inflows into our dams as well as high recharge to groundwater aquifers,” she said.
“The country is expected to generate between 18 to 24 billion cubic metres of water yet our national dam storage capacity is standing at 14 billion cubic metres against a situation where most of the dams are at nearly 70% full at a time when they should be at 50% full, as we approach the new season.”
Muchinguri said the chances of flooding similar to that encountered in the 2016/17 season were very high, adding there was need to strengthen early warning systems in areas like Tsholotsho, Malipati, Gokwe, Muzarabani, Middle Sabi and Tshikwalakwala.
She said her ministry was embarking on an ambitious command water harvesting programme to repair small community dams, de-siltation of dams and weirs, drilling of boreholes, putting up household roof tops and rock top rain water harvesting equipment, which would be spearheaded by Zimbabwe National Water Authority.
“My ministry has secured funding to the tune of $2 million to support this programme, and has an allocation of $3 million to support the drilling of boreholes across the country,” Muchinguri said.
She said veld fires had also destroyed the environment, life and property, with an average one million hectares destroyed annually.
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“In 2016 alone, 1 197 335 hectares of land were burnt. Furthermore, a total of 102 people lost their lives due to veld fires from 2010 to date. It is also sad to note that as a country, we lack the adequate firefighting resources such, as aerial firefighters in the form of helicopters, as well as the simple hand-held tools such as fire beaters,” she said.