Government through the Department of Land Use Planning & Development (DLUPD) commenced construction of dams before Independence (1968) at a small scale. Following the severe drought of 1992, the government engaged in robust dam construction programme, which saw more than 60 small dams (targeting livestock) constructed in the Lowveld of Eswatini. In an endeavor to fight food insecurity, the government later embarked on constructing medium-size dams that could irrigate at least 20 hectares.
The European Union granted the government funding of (Euros 13 million) to fast-track constructing of medium size dams through the 9th EDF. Seeing the need, EU has further granted the government more fund through 11th EDF to construct more dams.
The Water Harvesting, Small and Medium Dams Project (WHDP) has been developed as part of the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme (2016-2021), under the Ministry of Agriculture (DLUPD). This project seeks to mitigate effects climate change through the construction of Small and Medium dams Eswatini. In this context, it is worth noting that there is a sister project under 11th EDF implemented by SWADE named High-Value Crop and Horticulture Project (HVCHP).
The Water Harvesting, Small and Medium Dams Project (WHDP) seeks to contribute to the commercialisation of Eswatini Nation Land through increased water storage and irrigation. To ensure sustainability organised producers, water user groups, business planning, marketing, and environmentally sound practices will be prioritized.
Development of homestead-based rooftop water harvesting and nutrition gardening. This output will be undertaken on the basis of an action grant contract, following a Call for Proposals (CfP), under the responsibility of the National or Authorizing Office NAO. DLUPD will contribute to the preparation of the CfP and participate in the implementation monitoring of the grant contract.
The direct beneficiaries of the project come from; the Main Irrigation schemes (5-50ha), Off-stream reservoirs (1-5ha), and Homestead-based Roof Topwater harvesting. The Project target areas are rural areas of which constitute the greatest majority of the 29% Eswatini population failing to meet their minimum daily food requirements, including women and rural youth. The main problem to be addressed by the project is poverty alleviation and food insecurity.