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Saturday, 23 October 2010

Robbing the poor

The M’cheleka Irrigation Scheme was meant to answer water and food security challenges in the Chadiza district of Zambia's Eastern Province. But ten years after the completion of the dam wall, only six families are benefiting from the water. It's an indication that in some cases the water crisis is due as much to poor governance as to actual lack of water resources.....

When construction of the M’cheleka dam wall was completed in 2000, Hastings Mbuzi and hundreds of other villagers in Chadiza thought they would soon be rich. They would no longer need to travel long distances to other parts of the province to buy food....But the dam filled with water and then stood there, unused. The villagers waited patiently, hoping something could be done.

In September 2008, it seemed a breakthrough had been achieved when the government released 190 million Zambian kwacha (about $40,000) for the completion of the project....But two years later, a report from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) shows that while money released through the District Agriculture Coordinating Office in September 2008, and documents show it was all spent, the project on the ground remained uncompleted.


Extract from an IPS piece on the colossal failure of the M'cheleka Irrigation Scheme to benefit the poor. In the words of one Mbuzi, "All we know is that the money was released to the district agricultural officials to purchase material for the construction of the canals".

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