The “Garden Route” of Masvingo – rural aquaculture is also an attraction!

Nestled in the rolling hills and mountains around one of the biggest dams in Zimbabwe, Lake Mutirikwi (Kyle dam) are many homes to thousands of people in wards 13 and 14 of Masvingo rural district in Masvingo province on the south eastern lowveld. The scenic Murray McDougall Drive, accessible from the road towards Birchenough bridge, cautiously negotiates through the beautiful scenery offering unparalleled views of not only the lake but also the people’s livelihoods that seamlessly blend with the landscape. The name of the road is perhaps that of the man who pioneered the great lowveld sugarcane irrigation scheme and whose biography “Murray MacDougall and the Story of Triangle” was written by C. R. Sounders. Most of the smallholder farmers grow crops and keep livestock although frequently recurring droughts have been hindering them. Small wetlands found across the wards have always been an interesting feature which unfortunately has not been harnessed for the creation of improved livelihood opportunities.

Fish ponds with Murray MacDougall Drive in the background

Typical fish ponds in rural Masvingo along Murray MacDougall Drive

To many, fish farming has been a missing link in the exploitation of the abundant water resources as well as their preservation and protection. Aquaculture Zimbabwe has been working closely with the communities to responsibly exploit the water resources through constructing tilapia fish ponds for the benefit of the surrounding communities. A number of the sites can be visited easily and some are visible when one takes a breath taking drive along the Murray McDougall drive. Extensive stone works were used in the construction of ponds which on average are 2000m2 holding about 20000 fish each. The pond designs were tailor made to fit in the surrounding environment with a minimum foot print on the environment.

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