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PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu at Mwomboshi Dam in Chisamba. PICTURE: ROYD SIBAJENE/ZANIS

Agrarian revolution on the horizon

THE launch of the US$28 million Mwomboshi Dam by President Edgar Lungu is a milestone in actualising the country’s abundant water resources.
Mwomboshi Dam in Chisamba district has a storage capacity of 61 million cubic metres. It will be providing water for irrigation for farmers.
About 4,000 hectares of land will be brought under irrigation with at least 1, 500 hectares under smallholder farmers.
Zambia’s comparative advantage lies in the country’s abundant surface, underground water and land, which play a major role in stirring economic growth, employment creation and poverty alleviation.
With this endowment, our country has potential to irrigate about three million hectares of land.
Despite the abundant water resource that our country is endowed with, President Lungu is right when he says it is heart-breaking to note that 28 percent of the available water resources is harnessed for hydro-power generation and only two percent is for irrigation while 70 percent remains untapped.
We are glad that the narration is slowly becoming a thing of the past as Government has started making strides by ensuring that more dams are built across the country for water storage as well as irrigation and other purposes.
These multi-purpose dams should spur the long-awaited agrarian revolution so that the country can be growing enough for local consumption and export the surplus.
It is an opportunity for the country to leverage on its comparative advantage by turning potential into reality.
Apart from Mwomboshi Dam, which has just been commissioned, similar dams are under construction in Mufulira and Lusitu near Siavonga.
In September, President Lungu inaugurated the construction of the Kafulafuta Water Supply System Project on the Copperbelt Province aimed to improve water supply in Ndola and the surrounding towns of Luanshya, Masaiti and parts of Mpongwe.
The construction of dams around the country is timely.
It is a very significant aspect in our shift to harvesting the abundant water resources into ultra-modern reservoirs.
Dams also will enhance both livestock and crop farming for different size farmers in the area.
Dams will minimise rampant drilling of boreholes, which can be expensive and deplete underground water resources.
With dams around us, there will be assurance of all-year availability of water for farming activities because of a scientific approach used to capture water.
Dams will also reverse adverse environmental degradation as they will be no downstream negative effects caused by upstream degradation.
There will be heightened farming activities which will promote spin-off industries and businesses to create employment and reduce poverty.
Construction of dams is also an innovative way of responding to the challenges of climate change.
It will supplement other efforts such as the World Bank-funded climate-resilient programmes in the Kafue and Zambezi wetlands.
Beyond farming, the gesture of installing more dams will also enhance citizens’ rights to water and sanitation.
Access to water is a basic human right, so is access to sanitation.
Government is indirectly building the capacity of water utilities whose duty it is to enhance our citizens’ access to clean and potable water.
Therefore, water utility companies should begin to position themselves to tap into central government’s generosity.
There will be no justification on the part of Lukanga Water and Sewerage Company to fail to help take the water to the houses of the local communities within Mwomboshi and beyond.
In doing so, water utilities should not bulldoze but work with traditional and civic authorities in fulfilling their mandate.