CCMT’s Community Intervention Help Transform Mberengwa’s Irrigation Scheme

Xavier Mudangwe from CCMT (white shirt) and Agriculture Deputy Minister, Davis Marapira (far right) touring the Mundi Mataga Biri Irrigation Scheme on a field day

The Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT)’s intervention in the previously contentious Mundi Mataga Biri Extension Irrigation Scheme in Mberengwa brought relief and celebration to local villagers whose livelihood was threatened by a heated conflict between the local community and ZINWA, the country’s water authority.

The Mberengwa conflict arose in 2012 when around 250 families downstream the Mundi-Mataga dam blamed ZINWA for restricting them access to water while on the other hand, the water authority accused community members and the Musume Mission Hospital for refusing to pay for water consumption.

Following the adoption of Zimbabwe’s Water Act of 1998, there was a shift on policies and regulations that govern water management and conservation, from private water rights to water permits, a development which resulted in conflict between villagers who were unaware of such policy changes and ZINWA which was implementing the ACT.

This resulted in a standstill that brought a number of challenges including exposing people and livestock to unsafe and insufficient water supplies, disruption of hospital operations and nutrition gardens used by people suffering from HIV as well as a strained relationship among ZINWA, community members and the Mberengwa Rural District Council.

While speaking at a field day that was organised by the Department of Irrigation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development recently, villagers, traditional leaders and local authorities expressed their gratitude for the positive contribution made by CCMT in their community.

The field day was organised to celebrate the commissioning of the Biri Irrigation Scheme which was rehabilitated by the Government after one of the irrigation pipes was destroyed by floods.

According to one of the councillors in Mberengwa, Mr Peter Mashoko, some of the problems arose following the construction of the Mundi-Mataga dam which blocked water from flowing as usual along the community’s perennial river.

Councillor Mashoko said that the construction of the dam was a good thing but problems arose when the water authority blocked the flow of water downstream at the expense of people and livestock on the basis of payment and yet villagers believed they were unduly inconvenienced.

The councillor, however expressed gratitude for the intervention of CCMT which came into their area through the invitation of the Mberengwa Rural District Council, a development which brought harmony, peace, progress and development in the community.

“If there are people in any community that are having differences, conflicts and challenges which affects peace and development in their society, I encourage them to seek CCMT’s intervention towards finding a peaceful long-lasting positive solution.” Recommeded Councillor Mashoko.

While commenting on the same issue, the chairperson of the Mundi Mataga Biri Extension Irrigation Scheme, Mrs Dorcas Nyoni Masendu, said that the way how ZINWA was charging them for the water usage was also very vague and this affected the people’s ability to pay and thus resulting in farmers getting heavily indebted to the water authority.

“The problem was that relative to our land size of 117 hectares, the water consumption is supposed to be 1150 mega litres but we were surprisingly being charged for 8000 mega litres. This made us to believe that as a community we were being made to pay for water that we were not using and thus we got into a debt that left us very bitter and frustrated.

However, I am so grateful to CCMT for their transformative intervention in our community since they made sure that the conflicting parties, ZINWA and us, the local farmers were brought together into a productive dialogue towards ironing out our differences and making sure that the scheme runs smoothly.” Said Mrs Nyoni.

She went on to highlight that CCMT made them to understand that conflict is a reality that is always with humanity in the journey of life but what matters most is how it is handled in solving the problems that are faced from time to time.

Xavier Mudangwe from CCMT could not hide his joy following their successful intervention in the Mundi Mataga Biri Extension Irrigation Scheme.

“I am very happy as a person and I am so excited on behalf of CCMT for seeing our contributions being recognised and for witnessing the positive results of the dialogue” said Mr Mudangwe.

CCMT is a non-governmental organization whose mandate is the peaceful resolution of all forms of conflict in Zimbabwe and the SADC region.

It has so far successfully carried out various conflict interventions while working with organizations such as the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) and Action La Faim (ACF) among others.

Source: Brian Kazungu
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