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Background Information

The Mzimvubu River catchment in the Eastern Cape Province lies within one of the poorest and least developed regions of South Africa. Development of the area, with the express purpose of accelerating social and economic upliftment of the communities in the region, has been identified as a priority of Government.

Harnessing the water resources of the Mzimvubu River, the only major river in the country which is still largely unutilised, is considered as offering one of the best opportunities to supply water that is needed to support a variety of poverty alleviation developments in the region.

As a result of this need for development, Government, through the Department of Water and Sanitation, commissioned the Mzimvubu Water Project which consists of two multi-purpose dams on the Tsitsa River, a major tributary to the Mzimvubu River. The two dams will be built and operated as one integrated scheme to make the scheme sustainable throughout its useful life. This scheme will be built as the first phase of a much broader development programme of the Mzimvubu River catchment which will be phased over time.

Due to the vital catalytic role the project will play in the socio-economic development of the region, Government has classified the Mzimvubu Water Project as a Strategic Integrated Project to facilitate the allocation of sufficient resources and implementation on a fast track basis.


Socio-economic upliftment is expected to be achieved through:

  • potable water supply for domestic and industrial water requirements,
  • raw water supply for irrigated agriculture,
  • hydropower generation, and
  • the creation of temporary and permanent jobs.

Main Infrastructure Components of the Project

Main infrastructure components include:

  • A dam at the Ntabelanga site with a storage capacity of 490 million m3;
  • A dam at the Lalini site with a storage capacity of 232 million m3;
  • A tunnel and power house at Laleni dam site for generating hydropower;
  • Centralised water treatment works at Ntabelanga dam site;
  • Bulk water infrastructure to convey water to domestic and irrigated agriculture consumers; and
  • Flow gauging stations to measure the inflow and outflow from the dams as well as to monitor the implementation of the Reserve.