Build a water pipeline to irrigate the Great Karoo from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project
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The Karoo needs to be Irrigated
The Great Karoo is a sizeable part of South Africa which is fertile but lacks water. Irrigating the Great Karoo from Lesotho via the Gariep Dam would cause real economic growth - an unused asset would be opened up for development. New farmland would be available and new jobs would be created. Other countries have irrigated similar scrublands and created major agricultural areas. A good example is the Central Valley Irrigation Project in California, which changed the semi-arid environment of the San Joaquin Valley into productive farmland. Ultimately, the water for the Great Karoo would have to come from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, but it would have to be routed through the Gariep Dam.
A fundamental reason for many of the economic problems in South Africa is the existence of the dry interior. More than half of our agricultural land is not being used because of lack of water. Irrigating the Great Karoo would allow a greater utilization South Africa’s potential. Until now there has been no source for the water needed, but the building of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project has removed this obstacle.
The Lesotho Highlands Water project is the largest inter-basin transfer scheme in the world. At completion it will store more then 9730 hm3 of water. If routed into the Karoo the water would dramatically alter the economic landscape of South Africa.
True economic growth and real job creation is only possible when a country develops its natural resources. Developing the Great Karoo would lead to new jobs, an increase in GDP and more tax receipts.
Many other countries have irrigated deserts that seemed less promising than the Karoo. The Karoo is highly fertile because it has not been leached of minerals by rain. The Flats of the Great Karoo form a huge level plain that is well suited to intensive high value agriculture of the sort seen along the Lower Orange River. Because of the flat topology, the amount of arable land available is very high. And because the Karoo lies below Lesotho and the Upper Orange River, irrigation is possible using gravity and minimal pumping. The only shortcoming is the required infrastructure.
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