Top 10 Biggest Dams in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa that has a rich and diverse natural heritage. One of the features that make Zimbabwe stand out is its abundance of dams and reservoirs that provide water, electricity, irrigation, and recreation for its people. Zimbabwe has over 10,000 dams of various sizes and capacities, covering an area of about 117,662 hectares. Some of these dams are among the largest and most impressive in Africa and the world. In this article, we will look at the top 10 biggest dams in Zimbabwe, based on their water storage capacity.

1. Kariba Dam

Top 10 biggest dams in Zimbabwe

The Kariba Dam is the largest dam in Zimbabwe and one of the largest in the world. It is located on the Zambezi River, which forms the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The dam was constructed between 1955 and 1959, with the cooperation of both countries. The dam is a double curvature concrete arch dam, measuring 128 metres high and 579 metres long.

The dam created Lake Kariba, which is 280 kilometres long and holds 185 cubic kilometres of water.

The lake is the largest artificial lake in the world by volume. The dam has a hydroelectric power station that generates 1,626 megawatts of electricity, which is shared by Zimbabwe and Zambia. The dam also supports fishing, tourism, and wildlife conservation activities.

2. Tugwi Mukosi Dam

Top 10 biggest dams in Zimbabwe

The Tugwi Mukosi Dam (Tokwe Mukosi Dam) is the second-largest dam in Zimbabwe and the largest inland dam in the country. It is located on the Tokwe River, a tributary of the Save River, in Masvingo Province. The dam was constructed between 1998 and 2017, after several delays and challenges.

The dam is a concrete-face rock-fill dam, measuring 90.3 metres high and 1,287 metres long. The dam created a reservoir that holds 1.75 cubic kilometres of water. The reservoir is used for irrigation, domestic water supply, and tourism.

The dam has the capacity to have a hydroelectric power station that generates 12 megawatts of electricity.

3. Lake Mutirikwi

Top 10 biggest dams in Zimbabwe - Lake Mutirikwi

Lake Mutirikwi, formerly known as Lake Kyle, is the third-largest dam in Zimbabwe and one of the oldest in the country. It is located on the Mtilikwe River, a tributary of the Save River, in Masvingo Province.

The dam was constructed between 1958 and 1961, as part of a colonial irrigation scheme. The dam is an earth-fill embankment dam, measuring 54 metres high and 1,616 metres long.

The dam created a reservoir that holds 1.425 cubic kilometres of water. The reservoir is used for irrigation, domestic water supply, fishing, and tourism. The reservoir is surrounded by the Kyle Recreational Park, which is home to various wildlife species.

4. Lake Manyame

Lake Manyame, also known as Darwendale Dam or Lake Robertson, is the fourth-largest dam in Zimbabwe and one of the main sources of water for Harare, the capital city. It is located on the Manyame River, a tributary of the Zambezi River, in Mashonaland West Province. The dam was constructed between 1972 and 1976, as part of a multipurpose water project. The dam is an earth-fill embankment dam with a concrete spillway, measuring 43 metres high and 1,200 metres long.

The dam created a reservoir that holds 490 million cubic metres of water. The reservoir is used for domestic water supply, irrigation, fishing, and tourism.

5. Osborne Dam

The Osborne Dam ranks as the fifth-largest dam in Zimbabwe and is renowned for being one of the most scenic in the country. It is situated on the Odzi River, a tributary of the Save River, in the Manicaland Province.

Constructed between 1990 and 1994, the dam was originally built as part of a rural development project.

The dam itself is an earth-fill embankment dam, featuring a concrete spillway. It measures an impressive 64 meters in height and spans a length of 1,100 meters.

It created a reservoir with a capacity to hold 400 million cubic meters of water. This reservoir serves multiple functions, including irrigation, domestic water supply, fishing, and tourism.

6. Mazvikadei Dam

The Mazvikadei Dam is the sixth-largest dam in Zimbabwe and a highly popular recreational destination in the country. It is situated on the Mukwadzi River, a tributary of the Hunyani River, in the Mashonaland West Province.

The construction of the dam took place between 1984 and 1988. It was initially built as part of a water supply project for the Zisco Steel Company.

The dam itself is an earth-fill embankment dam, complemented by a concrete spillway. It measures 48 meters in height and spans 1,000 meters in length.

It created a reservoir capable of holding 360 million cubic meters of water. This reservoir serves multiple purposes, including domestic water supply, irrigation, fishing, and tourism.

7. Manyuchi Dam

The Manyuchi Dam stands as the seventh-largest dam in Zimbabwe and is unique for being one of the most remote dams in the country. It’s located on the Mwenezi River, which is a tributary of the Limpopo River, situated in Masvingo Province.

The dam was built in 1974 and was initially intended to be a part of a water supply project for both Rutenga town and the Nuanetsi Ranch.

As for its structure, the dam is an earth-fill embankment dam equipped with a concrete spillway. It has dimensions of 35 meters in height and 1,000 meters in length.

The construction of the dam resulted in a reservoir capable of holding up to 303 million cubic meters of water. This reservoir serves various purposes including domestic water supply, irrigation, fishing, and tourism.

8. Manjirenji Dam

The Manjirenji Dam is noteworthy as the eighth-largest dam in Zimbabwe. It holds particular significance for the country’s sugar industry. The dam is situated on the Chiredzi River, a tributary of the Save River, in the Masvingo Province.

Construction of the dam took place between the years 1964 and 1966. It was developed as part of an irrigation scheme specifically for the Hippo Valley Estates.

In terms of its construction, the dam is an earth-fill embankment dam that features a concrete spillway. Its dimensions measure 40 meters in height and span a length of 1,000 meters.

The completion of the dam led to the creation of a substantial reservoir with a capacity of 285 million cubic meters of water. This reservoir is multi-functional, serving as a source for irrigation, domestic water supply, fishing, and tourism.

9. Lake Chivero

Lake Chivero, formerly known as Lake McIlwaine or Lake Harava, holds the distinction of being the ninth-largest dam in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most polluted dams in the nation. The lake is situated on the Hunyani River, which is a tributary of the Zambezi River, and is located in Mashonaland West Province.

Construction of this dam took place between the years 1950 and 1952. It was primarily built as part of a water supply project aimed to serve Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe.

In terms of its structure, Lake Chivero is an earth-fill embankment dam that features a concrete spillway. It measures 26 meters in height and spans a length of 400 meters.

Upon its completion, the dam gave rise to a reservoir with a significant capacity of 250 million cubic meters of water. This reservoir serves multiple purposes, providing a source for domestic water supply, irrigation, fishing, and even tourism.

10. Mayfair Dam

The Mayfair Dam is notable for being the tenth-largest dam in Zimbabwe and one of its newest additions. It is situated on the Insiza River, which is a tributary of the Limpopo River, and falls within the jurisdiction of Matabeleland South Province.

The construction of the dam took place over a four-year period, between 1972 and 1976. Its primary purpose was to serve as a part of a water supply project aimed at providing resources for Bulawayo, the second-largest city in Zimbabwe.

Architecturally, the Mayfair Dam is an earth-fill embankment dam, complemented by a concrete spillway. It has dimensions of 30 meters in height and a length of 400 meters.

The dam’s construction led to the creation of a reservoir with a capacity of 182 million cubic meters of water. This reservoir is multi-functional, serving as a source for domestic water supply, irrigation schemes, fishing activities, and tourism.

Conclusion

These are the top 10 biggest dams in Zimbabwe, according to their water storage capacity. These dams are not only vital for the country’s water security and economic development, but also for its natural beauty and cultural heritage. They are worth visiting and appreciating for their engineering marvels and environmental benefits.

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