The development of smallholder irrigation schemes in Zimbabwe with particular reference to Masvingo Province: an overview
Gwanzura, Nicholas David
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Irrigation development plays an insignificant role in sub-Saharan Africa, except the large scale projects in Sudan and Madagascar where there is a history of irrigation by small farmers.'1' Abundance of rain-fed fertile lands provides the reason why irrigation development has played an insignificant role. Prior to colonization the African peasants used to practice shifting cultivation. This practice allowed the Lands to regain their fertility, and it was practiced in well watered regions* But with advent of colonialism, the peasants''lost the freedom to move about. Because the colonialists * economic development was based on racial discrimination, the peasants were removed.from all fertile lands and resettled in areas of poor soil fertility and erratic and unreliable rainfall* This led to impoverishment of the rural communities and ecological crisis. Therefore irrigation development in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular as shall be shown shortly, was not a case of ’’the desert shall bloom” syndrome. Rather it was a .. calculated response to the needs of European settlers and foreign capital.