Botswana Mozambique South Africa Zimbabwe About Tutorial Glossary Documents Images Maps Google Earth go
Please provide feedback! Click for details
Home The River Basin People and the River Governance Resource Management
Resource Management



send a comment



Water Use in the Basin  


Annual water withdrawals for domestic use in Botswana was 41 % of the total withdrawal in 2007, according to World Development Indicators (World Bank 2010).

Current water demand in the Limpopo River basin in Botswana is predominantly from the urban, irrigation and rural domestic sectors, with urban including domestic, industrial, institutional, mining, and unaccounted for water (UFW) consumption (LBPTC 2010).

Urban water demand is the fastest growing sector with the projection by 2020 to be almost double to 118 Mm³/ year (LBPTC 2010). Irrigation areas are planned to increase by approximately 5000 ha, therefore, an additional 48 Mm³/year will be required, which is a 400 % increase from current demand. Annual projections for rural water supply by 2025 are approximately 120 Mm³ indicating an increase of approximately 100 %.

Water demand projections were not available for livestock as it is widely dispersed and rurally based.


The present water use in the Limpopo River basin in Mozambique is primarily for irrigation at 95 % of the total water demand. Urban and industrial demand is less than 4 % while rural demand primarily relies upon groundwater. This corresponds with the 2007 World Development Indicators which show the percentage of water demand for domestic use as only 11 % on a country-wide basis (World Bank 2010).

Proposed developments for irrigation are projected to increase demand by approximately 450 % annually to 1 200 Mm³ in the future. Other than a major mining project which has now been placed on hold which would abstract water from the Limpopo River, there are no other significant water demand needs identified in the future in Mozambique with the data available.

Chokwé is one of the prominent irrigation schemes in Mozambique.
Source: Qwist-Hoffmann 2010
( click to enlarge )

South Africa

Annual water withdrawals for domestic use in South Africa was 31 % of the total withdrawal in 2007, according to World Development Indicators (World Bank 2010). This corresponds to the current water demand in the South African portion of the Limpopo River basin, which is predominantly from the irrigation and urban sectors, at 49 % and 22 %, respectively (LBPTC 2010). The remaining water demands include rural, mining, power generation, and afforestation. Transfers to other basins account for only 0.3 % at 7 Mm³ annually.

General projections for future water use include increases in urban and rural supply with increasing population and levels of service, while no other significant sector demand increases are expected.

Water demand within each national Water Management Area (WMA) varies based on land use. The dominant water demands, in each WMA, is outlined below from largest to smallest (DWAF 2003a, b, c, d):

  • Crocodile (West) & Marico - Urban, industrial, and mining; irrigation; power generation;
  • Limpopo - Irrigation; Urban, industrial, and mining; power generation;
  • Luvuvhu & Letaba - Irrigation; afforestation; rural domestic supplies, stock/game watering; Urban, industrial, and mining; and
  • Olifants - Irrigation; power generation, Urban, industrial, and mining.

The demands in the Crocodile (West) & Marico WMA reflect the dominance of urban and industrial development in this area. Within the Limpopo WMA 75 % of demand is in the irrigation sector as irrigation occurs throughout the WMA.

The sectoral requirements for water in the Luvuvhu & Letaba WMA, is a reflection of the strong rural and agricultural nature of the WMA with the smallest demand in UIM. In the Olifants WMA slightly more than half of demand is for irrigation due to the large irrigation developments downstream of Loskop Dam. The water used for power generation is predominantly for cooling water for the thermal power stations which is highly consumptive.


Annual freshwater withdrawals for domestic use in Zimbabwe was 14 % of the total withdrawal in 2007 according to World Development Indicators (World Bank 2010).

Current water demand in the Limpopo River basin in Zimbabwe has been assessed based on current water use permits (LBPTC 2010). Water demand is concentrated in the upper part of the catchment as the second largest city, Bulawayo, is located partially within this area. The agriculture and urban (including industry and mining) sectors account for approximately 47 to 51 % of the total demand on the Limpopo River basin. Rural water use accounts for only 0.4 % of demand.

Projections indicate agriculture, urban, and rural water supply demands will grow to about 1 000, 810, and 6 Mm³ annually, respectively. This shows a significant increase of 56 % in agriculture with smaller increases in urban and rural demand of 17 and 20 %, respectively.

Inyankuni Dam, Zimbabwe.
Source: Schaefer 2010
( click to enlarge )



Explore the sub-basins of the Limpopo River

Examine the virtual water trade and water footprints of SADC countries

Investigate the dams of the Limpopo basin

Tour video scenes along the Limpopo related to Resource Management