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MBABANE – Major boost for agricultural sector. The African Development Bank (AfDB) is financing the Mkondvo-Ngwavuma Water Resources Enhancement Programme (MNWAP) in Eswatini to the tune of US$ 1.67 million (about E29.9 million in Wednesday’s exchange rate). This programme will enable the construction of several dams in the country.

According to information from AfDB, the board of directors of the pan-African bank is financing feasibility studies for the implementation of the MNWAP to the tune of the said amount. Its objective is to contribute to food security, poverty reduction and climate change resilience by supporting the development of water and irrigation infrastructure in the country.


Within this framework, the AfDB support will enable feasibility studies to be carried out for several water reservoirs, notably that of Mahamba Gorge. Geographically, Mahamba Gorge is a deep cleft in the rocky ridge, dotted with aloe, where the Mkondvo River crosses the mountainous border with neigbouring South Africa. The AfDB financing will also help launch feasibility studies for the construction of the Ethemba Dam.

According to the report, the Mahamba Gorge and Ethemba dams will be located on the Mkhondvo River. The water contained in the basin of the two future dams will be transferred to the Ngwavuma River. The US$ 1.67 million provided by the AfDB will also help finance feasibility studies for the construction of the Mpakeni Dam on the Ngwavuma River for the irrigation of downstream areas.

According to the AfDB, its financial support will also be used to prepare detailed designs and tender documents for the new dams to be built at Mahamba Gorge, Ethemba and Mpakeni as well as to implement the water supply system in downstream irrigation areas.

It will also help mobilise resources for the construction of the dams and water supply system through a conference of investors.
The Mkondvo-Ngwavuma Water Resources Enhancement Programme is part of the country’s National Water Resources Management Master Plan. Launched in 2016, the plan has identified potential sites for dams, including the Mpakeni Dam on the Ngwavuma River and the Mahamba Gorge Dam on the Mkhondvo River.

“The aim is to improve agricultural production and productivity by increasing the area under irrigation in these river basins.
However, since the land along the Mkondvo River is small and unsuitable, the only way to achieve this objective is to transfer water from the Mkhondvo River to areas downstream of the Ngwavuma River,” said the African Development Bank.

A well informed government official confirmed knowledge of the project but politely asked not to shed light on it pending a proposed launch next week. According to the impeccable source, the agreement would be signed on the day.

Meanwhile, the AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina visited LUSIP on September 1 last year to determine positive impacts of the bank’s substantial investments into the LUSIP initiative. LUSIP is the Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project.

The initiative covers a total hectarage of 11 500 for both LUSIP phase 1 and 2 and seeks to benefit over 30 000 beneficiaries with a diversified range of agricultural produce that complements the main crop of sugar cane. The president and his team from AfDB was met by the Minister of Agriculture Jabulani Mabuza with his delegation as well as ESWADE CEO Samson Sithole with his delegation. The tour of LUSIP started at the project’s main office at Siphofaneni where the CEO of ESWADE welcomed guests and the LUSIP Project Manager briefed them on the overall picture of LUSIP. Areas visited included the Lukhetseni packhouse where harvested banana from two established Farmer Companies i.e. Luphiko LwaMgwagwa and Babili Farmers is graded and packed for mainly export.


Complementary, the HVCHP project at Sdzakeni which has recently started with plantations of banana and other veggies was also visited. The Lubovane Reservoir, dubbed the heartbeat of LUSIP, was visited to determine the management of structures and strategies put in-place for sustainability.

The Minister of Agriculture was mostly fascinated by the diversification which impressed the AfDB president in such a way as to wish that other countries in Africa would too copy the LUSIP model.

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