The Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (SWADE) has commissioned the Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) to conduct an impact assessment of the Lower Usuthu Irrigation Project (LUSIP) and other projects implemented by SWADE since establishment in 1999.

This impact study will assess the economic, social, and environmental benefits derived from investments in dams in Eswatini. The focus will be on the first phase of LUSIP. ESEPARC Executive Director Dr Thula Sizwe Dlamini says an academic study on the economic impacts of LUSIP is desirable to provide evidence on the impact of the project on agricultural production and, by default, on households. The study will generate useful information for the continued sustainability of the project into the future.

“It will also provide evidence on the contribution of the project in empowering rural households and social development in the project communities, which will provide indispensable information for continued government programming as the country embarks on expanding the implementation of its Poverty Reduction Strategy and Action Plan (PRSAP),” he says.

Adding, Dr Dlamini states that an impact assessment is ideal as a starting point to open up the debate on whether LUSIP and SWADE are yielding the desired dividends as per the government of Eswatini’s expectations.

He points out that the economic justification for approving the project in Eswatini was on its value towards improving the standard of living for the people, and therefore, the more information given to government and private donors on the impact of the LUSIP, the better each institution is at making informed investment decisions.

“Moreover, SWADE, whose mandate is to help in the creation of agricultural enterprises using water as a catalyst, need the outcomes of the study to demonstrate the value of the Government of Eswatini’s investment into pro-poor infrastructural projects like dams,” adds Dr Dlamini.

SWADE Chief Executive Officer Samson Sithole says the organisation is happy to work with ESEPARC on this study, as it is important not just for SWADE but also for the country’s future economic development through agriculture.