Zim ponders water exports to dry SADC states

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Kuda Bwititi

Harare – Zimbabwe is considering enhancing its water harvesting mechanisms to export water to other Southern Africa countries, especially considering the growing water crisis in the region.  

Some of the potential destinations for water export could be South Africa and Botswana, which are both experiencing severe water shortages.

 In South Africa, the precious liquid has increasingly become a scarce commodity, as exemplified by the prospect of “Day Zero”, which has been predicted to occur in Cape Town - with the city likely to cut off taps at homes and business, leaving the cosmopolitan settlement without access to water.

 The possibility of water exports was one of the issues Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa deliberated with his Botswana counterpart President Ian Khama during his visit to that country this week.

Talks on the matter are expected to continue in the coming months with Botswana said to be willing to assist Zimbabwe to enhance its water harvesting capacity, as part of the arrangement.

 In an interview soon after returning from Botswana, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, General Sibusiso Moyo, said the country is considering shoring up its dams to export water to its neighbours.

 He said in future, water is likely to be scarcer,   the need to plan ahead of time.

“There is the area of water which is very important. We, as Zimbabwe, have what I would call a blue diamond, which is fresh water. Freshwater in the region is going to be scarce and it is now that we need to further consolidate the capacity of our dams so that we have the capacity to export water.”

 Minister Moyo said Botswana and South Africa are the immediate targets for water exports from Zimbabwe.

 “After we meet our requirements, we can export to countries such as Botswana and South Africa, who need this water.”

 According to Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, the net capacity of the country’s national dams is around eight billion cubic metres.

 Currently, dam levels in the country are averaging around 50 percent but there is potential to reach full dam capacity.

 Furthermore, Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body, Tokwe Murkosi has the capacity to hold more than 1.8 billion cubic metres of water but currently, it holds around 200 million cubic metres.

 If “Zero Day” takes effect in Cape Town, residents will have to go to collection points for rationed water of 25 litres for their daily needs such as bathing, drinking, flushing toilets and washing hands.

Experts have also warned that water shortage is one of the issues that could reverse Botswana’s economic growth.

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