Irrigation projects get cash boost

THE Minister for Water and Irrigation, Mr Gerson Lwenge, has said that more than 39bn/- has been allocated to the Irrigation Commission in a bid to boost irrigation projects from the current 460,000 hectares to one million hectares by 2020.

Speaking during a live broadcast programme aired by Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) on Friday, Mr Lwenge said the commission was given strategies to ensure that by the year 2020 irrigation in the country will have changed.

"It is true that 80 per cent of the population depends on rainfed agriculture which is seasonal. So the government must seek alternatives and that is why we formed a commission that is keen on improving irrigation schemes in the country," said Mr Lwenge.

He said the commission has been given instructions that have to be implemented within five years and some of its functions include developing, construction of irrigation infrastructure and ensuring proper and sustainable irrigation systems.

He said that Tanzania has 29 million hectares of land that is suitable for irrigation but so far 460,000 hectares only have been used. This is a minor one per cent of all land.

Through the commission, in five years from now, it has to increase the area to reach one million hectares to allow the country to have a large irrigation area which would transform the lives of citizens and lift the country's economy.

About irrigation, Lwenge said various measures are already being implemented where some regions including Mbeya have commenced using the method in paddy fields.

The upshot is to develop the system in other regions. The minister said the country has not done well previously in agriculture in general and this anomaly has shunted in hunger. But if the method could have been implemented effectively there would not have been hunger.

Irrigation can change the state of the economy because there is a possibility of cultivating twice a year, in contrast to relying on rain-fed agriculture in which farmers harvest only once a year and sometimes scanty rain leads to losses of harvest.

Speaking about water supply in the country, he said in 2016/17 the ministry has allocated 1tril/- for various water projects in many areas to cope with the water policy that seeks the distance for one to fetch water to be limited to about 400 metres.

Implementation of the policy began in separate phases and that the first phase began in 2007/15 through a water programme where 1,800 projects have been launched in rural and urban areas.

A total of 1,200 projects have been implemented which is equivalent to 72 per cent for rural areas and 80 per cent in urban areas, while the remaining 600 projects are in different stages of implementation.

However, he said the problem of loss of water still exists especially in urban areas. He urged citizens to cooperate in order to control the loss. “In Dar es Salaam, 47 per cent of water is lost.

There is actually a dilapidated infrastructure but also theft is among the reasons. We have tried to seal the theft loopholes. We want communities to continue providing cooperation in this critical matter,” said Lwenge.

He said since they have started to control water losses through fraud, they can increase revenue from 2bn/- per month to 7bn/-.

He added that those found guilty of water theft will be prosecuted for economic sabotage. Referring to the sewage network of Dar es Salaam, he said preparations were in line to change the sewerage system to control flows into the sea. But the sewage will construct a system to treat it to be used again as clean water.
Irrigation projects get cash boost Irrigation projects get cash boost Reviewed by on 11:02:00 PM Rating: 5

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