SWITZERLAND has resumed extending development aid to Zimbabwe as the latest European country to re- engage with Harare after the European Union lifted economic sanctions against the country earlier this year.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday signed a four- year project worth 6.3 million U.S. dollars to Zimbabwe for rehabilitation of dilapidated irrigation schemes in the country’s drought-prone Masvingo Province.
Zimbabwe has been receiving erratic rainfall in recent years due to climate change resulting in the country incurring food deficits in dry years.
State media said relations with Switzerland soured at the turn of the millennium when the Swiss Federal Council joined the United States and other European countries in imposing sanctions on a number of individuals and firms in Zimbabwe.
In October, the European Union removed the decade-old economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, which will ensure development aid being re-channeled into the country after a decade of void.
In a statement Wednesday, FAO Zimbabwe said the funds would be used to rehabilitate eight small holder irrigation schemes with total land coverage of 700 hectares in the province.
The irrigation schemes targeted are not functional or not operating at full capacity due to dilapidated infrastructure and other socioeconomic factors.
The project will be jointly implemented with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development.
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, who witnessed the signing ceremony, said the project the first, after a long time, as a mode in which a development partner deals directly with government, was timely
He said with this SDC contribution, the 36-million-dollar national irrigation framework was now 40 percent funded.
The framework targets the rehabilitation of approximately 4,000 hectares of farmland in the country by 2018.