Eswatini Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise


Project Description:

The Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project (LUSIP) is a poverty alleviation initiative situated in the Lowveld of Eswatini. The project aims to benefit 4 600 households (34 000 people) through transforming subsistence farmers into commercial farmers of irrigated lands producing cash and food crops. This development is linked with strong environmental management for sustainability which includes development of potable water schemes and support to public health facilities. The Project has constructed three dams on the Mhlatuzane River, Golome River and a Saddle Dam to form an off-river storage reservoir to impound 155 million cubic metres of water harvested from wet season flood flows in the Usuthu River, to irrigate a net area of 11 500 ha. The project is implemented in two phases. In its first phase, the project has constructed the dams and a tertiary distribution system to irrigate the first 6 500ha. In Phase II, the Government of Swaziland intends to extend the water delivery system by 36km and construct a tertiary distribution system to irrigate a further 5 000 ha.

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The goal of the Project is the reduction of poverty and sustained improvement in the standard of living of the population in the Project Area through commercialisation and intensification of agriculture.


  1. Integration of smallholder farming households into the commercial economy through the provision of irrigation infrastructure, development of the policy and legal framework for smallholder irrigation, as well as establishment of farmer-managed irrigation institutions; and
  2. Sustainable improvement in environmental health in the project area to ensure that the population derives the full benefits of agricultural commercialisation.


  1. Infrastructure with ability to impound, store, and distribute 155 million cubic metres of water per annum.
  2. Approximately 115 farmer-managed institutions benefitting 4600 households.
  3. All households in the project area with access to potable water and sanitation facilities.
  4. All negative impacts of the project are mitigated against and positive impacts enhanced.

Project Area:

The project is in the geographic areas of the following Chiefdoms: Madlenya, Ngcamphalala, Shongwe-Othandweni, Gundvwini-Lesibovu, Mamba-Mamisa, Bulunga-Mahashulane and Mphumakudze-Mphaphati all under Phase I. In Phase II, Ngcamphalala South, Mngometulu and Matsenjwa Chiefdoms will be added.

Target Group:

The Project will benefit households which presently reside within the boundaries of the project area, comprising approximately 2 600 (Census, 2005) households under Phase I and approximately 2000 households under Phase II, with direct opportunity to irrigated farming. In addition to this group of beneficiaries, other households will derive in-direct benefits through employment and ancillary enterprise opportunities arising from an expansion of economic activity in the project area.

Community Institutions Development

Through the Planning Institution Development Unit (PIDU) capacity building workshops for traditional authorities’ stakeholders, on leasehold arrangements, as well as the registration of community trusts/foundations are continuing in the project area. This also includes facilitation of the Chiefdom Development Plans (CDP’s) and development of Farmer Companies constitutions.

Institutions strengthening

Trainings on Corporate Governance continue to be intensified following continued struggles with management of farms, specifically, farm operations.

Business Development

To initiate the development, a social mobilization exercise where communities are sensitized on the planned development is undertaken. Communities are then assisted to develop a vision for the Chiefdoms based on the commercialization of agriculture, which underpins the changes that will take place in the communities, a process called Chiefdom Development Planning. This process emphasizes “training for transformation” principles in order to prepare the communities for the changes envisaged and assists them to fully participate in the development so that they have firm a basis for informed community participation and decision making. Training for transformation is founded on gender and social equity, which is an important issue to be addressed in the development. This ensures understanding, full community participation and builds ownership of the development for sustainability.

Farm Development

Whilst sugarcane remains the anchor crop for smallholder farmers in the   Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project, a strong diversification programme has been set up to ensure continued resilience of the farmer companies, spreading of risk, reduced environmental impacts whilst lifting the community/business incomes.

LUSIP has also done some research with regards to finding an alternative crop     for sugarcane farmers to consider and      grow to learn and trust. Two farmer   companies under the LUSIP project have gone into banana production, and      these are Luphiko LwaMgwagwa who between the two of them have 108 hectares of land.


The integration of smallholder farming households into the commercial economy through the provision of irrigation infrastructure has provided opportunities for other agricultural enterprises, outside of the cropping field to thrive. Through the provision of irrigation infrastructure and water, LUSIP has seen to the establishment and significant growth of two pig production enterprises. Mhlonhlweni Investments and Mbazane investments are two local companies within the project who both boast of high-tech units which have the capacity to hold fifty (50) sows each.

Feedlotting as a concept has also been well embraced by farmer groups at LUSIP. The livestock unit has plans of setting up mini feedlots on all the farms, where animal feed (fodder) shall be grown by the farmers as a cost moderator.

Life Sustenance: 

19, 397 people  (2,711 households) have an improved access to sanitation facilities; 14, 646 people (2,186 households) now have access to clean and potable water, which will reduce the occurrence of some water borne diseases such as diarrhoea, which were previously a major issue due to the low quality of the water people used for drinking and cooking.

Bulk Water Infrastructure System Management

The Diversion Weir, Feeder Canal, dam walls (3), reservoir, and the Main Canal South leading downstream was completed in 2009. The three dams are on the Mhlatuzane River, Golome River and a Saddle Dam. The reservoir reached full capacity in December 2010 for the first time.  The goal of the Project is the reduction of poverty and sustained improvement in the standard of living of the population in the Project Area through commercialization and intensification of agriculture.

The government through the ministry of Natural Resources and Energy has since extended the mandate for ESWADE to continue operating and maintaining the bulk infrastructure to March 2016. The management of the LUSIP bulk infrastructure is hence a joint effort between ESWADE and DWA.

The mission of the water management unit is to supply water to LUSIP water users in order to advance their economic development goals while preserving the asset value of the bulk infrastructure in a participatory approach.

High Value Crop and Horticulture Project (HVCHP)

The High Value Crop and Horticulture Project (HVCHP) seeks to increase the contribution of the agricultural sector to poverty reduction in Swaziland by creating pro-poor growth, securing livelihoods of small holder farmers by providing them marketing opportunities and providing locally produced diversified food on the market.

The project will build on the established mandates and capacities of the Eswatini Water & Agricultural Development Enterprise (ESWADE) (facilitation of farmer structuration around irrigation schemes, downstream irrigation schemes development and small and medium enterprise development in agriculture, extension services) and the National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBOARD) (facilitation of trade, transport and storage) drawing on complementarities of both institutions in order to create functional agriculture markets and a competitive and innovative private sector that is critical for agriculture growth.

The overall objective is to contribute to the reduction of poverty by creating pro-poor growth, securing livelihoods of small holder farmers and providing locally produced diversified food on the market.

This will be achieved through the establishment of a market information system, installation of cold stores at three existing national markets (Mbabane, Manzini and Mahlanya), mobilization of target communities to form chiefdom development plans (CDPs) organized and formal farming companies (FCs), preparation of designs for the construction of zone hub centers.

Click here to read more about HVCHP


3rd Floor,
MVA Building,
Mbilibhi Street

P.O. Box 5836,

Tel: (00268) 2404 7950 / 1
: (00268) 2404 7954



Old Standard Bank
Lutala Road

P.O. Box 13,

Tel: (00268) 2323 2268 / 9
Fax: (00268) 2323 2275





P.O. Box 198,

Tel: (00268) 2344 1671 / 2 / 3
Fax: (00268) 2344 1665



Big Bend
Homeboys Building
Next to LISMORE Lodge


P.O. Box 198,

Tel: (00268) 2363 6647 / 8 / 9
Fax: (00268) 2363 6641



Lubovane Dam


P.O. Box 198,

Tel: (00268) 2344 1906
Fax: (00268) 2344 1953


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