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Swaziland Irrigation Projects

Lobomba, Swaziland

Project General Description

The second phase of the Swaziland Lower Usuthu Basin Irrigation Scheme (LUSIP II) follows LUSIP I, which was approved on November 27, 2003 (and completed in 2010), following recognition. by the Government of the excellent opportunity offered by the natural resource potential of the lower Usuthu river basin. The entire LUSIP is aimed at diverting part of the Usuthu River's peak flow to a storage tank with a capacity of 155 million cubic meters out of the riverbed. The stored water would be used to irrigate 11,500 ha of downstream (two-phase) land for sugar cane production. For LUSIP II, it is an autonomous investment project that aims to increase agricultural production and household incomes in the Lower Usuthu Basin. The total cost of the project, net of taxes and duties, but including the vagaries of performance and the provision for price increase, is estimated at ZAR 2.01 billion (UA 104.15 million). It has four main components, namely: (i) Development of the main distribution network; (ii) Construction of the secondary irrigation network supplying the various irrigation blocks, each of which covers 100-700 ha; (iii) Agricultural Infrastructure Development; and iv) Project Coordination and Management.

Project Objectives

The goal of LUSIP II is to reduce poverty in the project area by transforming subsistence farmers into commercial farmers in the irrigated perimeters that produce both cash crops and cash crops (mainly sugar cane).


The direct beneficiaries of the project are households and agricultural producers in the project area (Usuthu Basin).

Participating Organization


Swaziland Water and Agriculture Development Enterprise (SWADE)


African Development Bank

Recently, the Government of Swaziland has started two new major irrigation projects, the KDDP and the LUSIP in the Lowveld. Within a few years, these should lead to the development of a total of 17 500 ha for irrigation.

Komati Downstream Development Project The KDDP was started in 2001 with the aim of developing 6 000 ha of new irrigation schemes in the Komati Basin. This project extends over 27 000 ha (with a population of 22 000 people) and uses water from the recently completed (2001) Maguga Dam, the largest in the country (with a capacity of 332 000 m3 – so bringing the total storage capacity of Swaziland’s dams to 585 000 m3) (FAO, 2005). Different organizations have been involved in the various stages of this project. The construction of the dam (at a cost of US$170 million) was conducted under the supervision of the Komati Basin Water Authority (KOBWA), a bilateral company established in 1993 by the governments of Swaziland and South Africa, under the Treaty on the Development and Utilization of the Water Resources of the Komati River Basin (1992). In June 1999, the Government of Swaziland established the Swaziland Komati Project Enterprise (SKPE), a parastatal organization responsible for implementing the irrigation schemes in the Komati Basin (using water from the Maguga Dam) and promoting the development of rural communities in this area (SWADE, 2007)

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