Eswatini’s Bold Initiative: Mkhondvo-Ngwavuma Water Augmentation Program (MNWAP) Takes Centre Stage

Eswatini’s Bold Initiative: Mkhondvo-Ngwavuma Water Augmentation Program (MNWAP) Takes Centre Stage

In a groundbreaking move, the Kingdom of Eswatini places the Mkhondvo-Ngwavuma Water Augmentation Program (MNWAP) at the forefront of its priorities. This strategic initiative, spearheaded by the government through the Eswatini Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (EWADE), holds a multi-faceted objective of bolstering food security, alleviating poverty, and fortifying resilience against climate change by facilitating water and irrigation infrastructure development.

MNWAP, a comprehensive development program, spans various sectors, with a focal point on agricultural and agro-industrial advancements. The program’s overarching ambition is to reclaim 30,000 hectares dedicated to horticulture and oil crops. This ambitious goal is set to be achieved through irrigation water transfer from the Mkhondvo River to the Ngwavuma River, a feat accomplished by constructing three pivotal dams – Mpakeni on the Ngwavuma River, and Mahamba and Ethemba on the Mkhondvo River. These dams will work in tandem with a diversion system and a conveyance scheme, forming the backbone of the MNWAP endeavour.

A critical step before the first disbursement involves the EWADE undertaking a socio-economic impact assessment at identified host replacement sites. These sites serve as the future resettlement areas for affected communities, and the assessment findings will contribute to the formulation of the Livelihoods Restoration Plan (LRP) and compensation processes.

Community involvement in formulation of livelihood restoration plan

The Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) mandates the consideration of livelihood restoration measures when the project’s land acquisition negatively impacts the well-being of the affected communities. The concept of livelihoods encompasses a broad spectrum of activities undertaken by individuals, families, and communities to sustain their lives. This includes income-generating activities, such as crop production for market sale, as well as those aimed at supporting household nutrition and other essential needs, such as hunting, gathering, or acquiring construction materials.

The Resettlement Policy and Entitlements Framework have been intricately designed to ensure fair compensation for the impacts of land acquisition on Project Affected People (PAPs). While monetary compensation is a crucial component, it is acknowledged that it alone may not fully restore living standards to pre-project levels. Therefore, the program emphasizes the opportunity to not only recover but also improve livelihoods, creating a pathway towards a more sustainable and resilient future for the people of Eswatini. As MNWAP progresses, it stands as a testament to Eswatini’s commitment to holistic development and the well-being of its citizens.

community during various project impact meetings

The Mkhondvo-Ngwavuma Water Augmentation Program (MNWAP) is not just focused on infrastructure development but has also prioritized the well-being of Project Affected People (PAPs). As the program advances, a robust framework for livelihood restoration has been crafted, acknowledging the diverse needs and aspirations of the communities involved.

The livelihood restoration options are meticulously derived from trends identified in the socioeconomic and livelihoods baseline, coupled with extensive engagement with key stakeholders, including the PAPs themselves. This inclusive approach ensures that the proposed options align realistically with existing resources, knowledge, skills, and household experiences within the Project Development Area.

Looking ahead, the restoration options are not set in stone but undergo continuous refinement. This process involves active consultation with PAPs and engagement with sectoral experts to ensure that the chosen measures are sustainable in the long run. The wisdom of local communities and the expertise of sectoral professionals will be harnessed to fine-tune the options and enhance their effectiveness.

Importantly, PAPs play a central role in the decision-making process. They have the opportunity to choose from a range of carefully described options, each tailored to leverage their current activities and skills. The emphasis is on empowering communities by giving them a say in the direction of their own livelihood restoration. While it is acknowledged that some PAPs may opt not to participate, the EWADE is committed to ensuring that all PAPs understand the offerings. Special attention will be given to providing vulnerable groups with adequate opportunities to participate, fostering an inclusive and supportive environment.

engagement with PAP on the Project

As MNWAP progresses, the livelihood restoration strategies stand as a testament to the commitment of Eswatini and EWADE to not only develop crucial infrastructure but also to uplift and empower the communities that are an integral part of this transformative project.