Implications of rural irrigation schemes on household economy. A case of lower Gweru irrigation scheme, Zimbabwe
Rural poverty is a major challenge in most developing countries especially in Africa where the majority of people are still living below the poverty datum line. In Zimbabwe, poverty is made more severe by occasional droughts associated with climate change, climate variability and failed socio-economic-political governance. One of the ways to mitigate the impact of drought and prevent deepening poverty is the introduction of small irrigation schemes. However, there is a raging debate on the social and economic viability of these schemes on household livelihood security and income. This paper aims at investigating the socio-economic impacts of Lower Gweru Irrigation project in Zimbabwe. A case study approach was used in this study. Primary data was gathered using self-administered questionnaire and complemented by secondary data. Results demonstrated that rural irrigation has a critical role in ensuring sustainable household and community income. Irrigators fared well regarding wealth accumulation, household food security and quality of life as measured through the use of standardised HDI. In light of the above, there is a need to fund and develop more rural irrigation schemes so as to ensure livelihood security and rural development in Zimbabwe.
Keywords: Rural livelihood, Poverty, Climate change, Irrigation, Lower Gweru, Extension.