The Zambezi river. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Natural Resources: Water: Zimbabwe’s main water sources

  • Zimbabwe’s main water sources indicate that most of the country’s major dams are either in the Lowveld or Highveld where suitable dam sites are found.
  • Lake Mutirikwi is one of the largest inland water bodies in Zimbabwe.
  • It supplies the town of Masvingo with water.
  • It also supplies the sugar plantations at Triangle and Hippo Valley with water for irrigation.
  • The lake is a growing tourist attraction, fishing ground and venue for water sport.
  • Lake Kariba on the Zambezi River is a multi-purpose scheme providing water for local domestic use.
  • Urban population has more access to safe water than rural population.
  • Most of the major national schemes were developed to provide water for the major urban areas.
  • In Zimbabwe most of the large urban areas are on the Highveld, where the main commercial farming belt and the main line of rail are found.
  • Rivers on the Highveld are, however, small and good dam sites are few.
  • Water, therefore, has to be pumped to the urban centres from dams outside these areas.
  • This makes the water expensive for both the domestic and industrial consumer.
  • The city of Harare is supplied with water from Lakes Chivero and Darwendale or Manyame river, Seke and Harava dams on the outskirts of the city.

Some of the problems of water supply for Harare include:

  • The pollution from industries and farming areas.
  • Water weed which has invaded and is choking Harare’s main water sources like Lake Chivero.
  • The current shortage of foreign currency to import modern technology or spare parts for the pump stations.

Bulawayo on the other hand, obtains water from the Zambezi River to carter for the acute shortages of water for the city.

  • The Zambezi water project has kicked off with the building of the Gwai-Shangani dam.
  • Water is pumped from the Zambezi river to the Gwai-Shangani dam and then to Bulawayo.
  • It is regarded that the water will support several irrigation projects between the Zambezi and Bulawayo forming a large green belt in the dry areas of Matabeleland North.
  • It will also supply water to the agro-based industries that will grow along the green belt giving rise to a lot of employment opportunities.
  • Settlements and towns along the pipeline will also benefit from the water source.
  • Zimbabwe’s towns generally have problems supplying enough water to meet the demands of industry as well as domestic needs.
  • Constant droughts are adding to the problem of water supply to the urban centres.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page