AN ASSESSMENT OF THE HEALTH IMPACTS OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF SIYA DAM IN THE MAZUNGUNYE AREA OF BIKITA DISTRICT, ZIMBABWE
Boycen Kumira Mudzengi and Evans Chazireni*
Water resources projects such as dams can cause significant health impacts on communities. This research assessed the health impacts of the construction of Siya Dam in the Mazungunye area. Research methods included key informant interviews and a questionnaire survey. The results from the study showed that Siya Dam has both positive and negative impacts on community health in the Mazungunye Area. Fish resources from the dam can be used to augment dietary protein requirements thereby ensuring community health and contributing to local villagers having balanced diets. The construction of the dam also ensured that livestock in the Mazungunye area did not suffer from water shortage thereby guaranteeing meat protein supply to the community. On the negative side the construction of Siya Dam resulted in the increased incidence of water-borne and vector-borne diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis in the Mazungunye area. Incidences of stress resulting from being displaced by the construction of Siya Dam were also noted. The study recommended that funds should be availed for the development of irrigation schemes in Mazungunye area so as to boost agricultural production. This will enhance food security and ensure people have balanced diets thereby resulting in health benefits to the community. The development of irrigation schemes is also an important mitigation measure against climate change which is expected to result in increased occurrence of droughts in Zimbabwe and the shrinking of the maize belt. Local villagers should also not practice streambank cultivation and cause deforestation as this will result in the siltation of the dam thereby minimizing benefits accruing to them.
Keywords: dam, health impacts, water-borne diseases, dietary protein, sustainable, irrigation.
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