Chiansi irrigation project starts construction

14th Aug 2019

Kafue District, Zambia: On Tuesday, the President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency, Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, presided over a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction of the Chiansi Irrigation project.

His Excellency was welcomed to the community by the Minister of Agriculture, Michael Katambo, the Dutch Ambassador, the British High Commissioner and members of the project team.

Following a tour of the Chanyanya Market Gardens and an opportunity to meet with smallholders, His Excellency spoke to a large audience of Government ministers, community members and invited guests, saying: “I am honoured to share this ground-breaking to mark the beginning of the construction of the Chiansi Irrigation project.” He described the challenges that climate change and drought present for Zambia’s agricultural sector and concluded that: “This project could not have come at a more appropriate time. With the threat of climate change, irrigation is needed to boost production and to enhance food security. Agriculture is a lifeline for all of us.”

The Chiansi project builds on the Chanyanya pilot which established a cooperative to provide irrigation to an 148ha commercial farm and 126 market gardens. InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), subsequently secured grant funding from PIDG’s Technical Assistance Facility and worked with the Government of Zambia to secure further grant funding from the Dutch ORIO Infrastructure Fund (ORIO) to extend the existing infrastructure.

“It is a pleasure to be part of the launch of the Chiansi project, it is a true milestone. I would like to congratulate Zambia for adopting a cross-sector, cross-border approach, and wish the communities of this area many all-year-round growing seasons to come.” said Barbara van Hellemond, Dutch Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, who travelled to attend the ground-breaking ceremony.

Speaking at the event, InfraCo Africa’s Head of Asset Management, Connor Dawson, said: “It is a great honour to welcome His Excellency here today to officiate the ground-breaking, demonstrating the significance of the project. He thanked the Ministry of Agriculture for their patience and support, the community and the public and private sector partners who have worked to realise InfraCo Africa’s vision.  Mr Dawson acknowledged the local community and farmers, “for their role as custodians of a precious resource,” saying: “Water is the lifeblood of Africa. Today, we have a digger to our left and we are ready to get water to the dry hinterland.”

The Government of Zambia has commissioned private investor CHIDECO (an associated company to SUDECO) to build, manage and maintain Chiansi’s new bulk water infrastructure on its behalf: this infrastructure will deliver sufficient canal capacity to irrigate 3,800ha and is expected to become operational in 2020. The project will also enable the development of a 1,336ha irrigated commercial farm, provide water to irrigate local market gardens, and enable expansion of the original Chanyanya pilot area.

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