By Sydney Gokomere
Gweru, October 13, 2016 – MATTHIAS Ndlovu, aged 55, from Lower Gweru has been relying on irrigation farming to look after his family for the past decade.
Ndlovu feeds, clothes and sends his children to school using proceeds from the project.
The farmer is one among many at Mambanjeni Irrigation Scheme in Lower Gweru who realised low yields partly as a result of the effect of raw sewage discharge into Gweru River by the city council.
“We rely on Gweru River as we draw water from a weir for our irrigation activities,” Ndlovu told RadioVOP.
“But because of the discharge of raw sewage in the river year in and out, we had to contend with algae which spreads in a weir andconsequently blocking water pumps, irrigation pipes and sprinklers.”
He said over the years, yields at the irrigation scheme were affected because of the raw sewage discharge.
The fears of the farmers could be over after the chairperson of the commission running the affairs at council, Tsunga Mhangami, recently revealed that they had completed the renovation of the sewage treatment plants, which were polluting the river.
“Over the years, raw sewage was being discharged into Gweru River and this has finally been corrected,” Mhangami said.
“If you go to Gweru River you won’t see raw sewage now.”
Last year, the Environmental Management Agency fined council $25 000 for discharging raw sewage into Gweru River.
Since then, the cash-strapped local authority has been struggling to rehabilitate its sewage treatment plant owing to financial constraints as $7 million was required for the refurbishment process.
Another farmer, Agrippa Ndiweni said he hoped the local authority was being sincere in announcing that it had put stops in discharging effluent into the river.
Ndiweni said the raw sewage did not only negatively impact on their crops but domestic animals as well as potential hazards to human health.
Despite the municipality’s assurances, EMA provincial publicity and education officer Timothy Nyoka said the agency was still to assesscouncil’s claims.
“But you should also understand that raw sewage is not the only source of pollution into Gweru River and as EMA we would go on the ground to assess the whole situation,” said Nyoka.