The socio-ecological impacts of small dams: A case study of Mushandike Sanctuary, Zimbabwe

R. Gwazani, E. Gandiwa, P. Gandiwa, V. Mhaka, T. Hungwe, M. Muza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Demand and supply of water over space and time is being influenced by changes in land use, population growth, industrial development and construction of dams. In this study, we focus on Mushandike dam located in Mushandike Sanctuary, Zimbabwe, and evaluate the socio-ecological impacts associated with this dam. We gathered data through interviews with local farmers and agricultural extension officers. We also retrieved historical data on rainfall, water levels, fish harvest and irrigated agricultural production linked to Mushandike dam. Following Mushandike dam construction, several people were relocated and a resettlement scheme adjacent to Mushandike Sanctuary was established with water from the dam being used for irrigation. The relocation had positive impacts in the early years of the irrigated agricultural schemes as the standard of living for the families improved. However, the situation has recently changed as the farmers are now faced with water scarcity for crop irrigation. The irrigation scheme has failed to operate for over a year now due to competing demands on the water resource. This study attributes the main cause for the water level decline in Mushandike dam to the increasing losses of water as it flows from the dam and to the irrigation canals. Water scarcity has resulted in the reduction in crop production and decreased aquatic life in the dam. There is need therefore, to improve water management in Mushandike catchment to allow for sustainable conservation and development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-194
JournalJournal of Sustainable Development in Africa
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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