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.Is the largest multi-purpose river scheme in the whole of Africa found in South Africa and it has been a major basis for the countrys agricultural and industrial development.

The scheme started in 1962 and by 1990 a greater part of it had been completed. Its cost has been put to over 900 million dollars.

The scheme has several dams for example the Vaal dam, Hertz dam Hendrikverwolerd, Gariep, Vanderkloof, Torquay, Clan William, and Buchuburg.

The orange river on which the scheme is located originates from the Drakensburg mountains in the east-flowing westwards through the republic of South Africa to the Atlantic coast.

It also forms an international boundary between South Africa and Namibia.

It has several tributaries for example Caledon, Vaal, Fish, and Hertz.

The main objectives of the river scheme include:

  • To control flooding during the rainy season.
  • To encourage irrigation farming in the drier but fertile dams of the semi-arid regions of the central cape province and northwestern South Africa.
  • To encourage animal rearing as well as the growing more food crops for the country`s ever-increasing population.
  • To reduce soil loss to the Atlantic ocean by controlling the rate of soil erosion and silt loss.
  • To develop the northwestern areas of the republic of south Africa so as to help in decongesting the eastern parts of the country.
  • To generate HEP so as to foster industrial development in the country.


The orange river project increased irrigation thereby creating more land for agricultural development for example at the Buchuburg dam an increment of 28000 hectares of agricultural land was realized while at
Torquay more than 1200 hectares of land was added onto the existing land.

An increase in agricultural land also increased crop production to over 25%, especially in the production of fruits, vegetables, maize, wheat, groundnuts, cotton, and many others which were grown on a large scale thereby guaranteeing food security for the South Africans.

The dangers of severe droughts over a large area of the Karoo were greatly reduced through the artificial application of water and South Africa became a major producer of wool as a result of improved sheep rearing in the region.

Flood control was also undertaken through the building of dams, stabilizing of the river banks well as reducing silting, and all these reduced damages. It also helped to save funds that would have been spent on the flood damage repairs.

The creation of the large water reservoirs through damming helped to stabilize the water supply for the new and existing irrigation schemes and in addition helped to supply freshwater to the neighboring towns and urban centers like Kimberly Buchuburg, Clan Williams, and many others.

There has been the production of HEP for both domestic and industrial use for example 240 megawatts are produced at the vanderkloof power station. Over 500 megawatts from Gariep station and combined with power from other stations has provided much-needed HEP for both domestic and industrial purposes.

The success of the project made it a reference point and model scheme for setting up other multipurpose projects not only in the Republic of South Africa but also in the rest of Africa for example the Kainji project in Nigeria, Kariba project in Zambia, Kaborabosa in Mozambique as well as the Lesotho highlands water project.

Employment opportunities have been provided to a number of people of South Africans as farmers, engineers, transporters, and those employed in the various industries. This has made them earn a disposable income and thus improve their living standards.

The project and its various facilities like the dams and manmade lakes, the powerhouses, recreation facilities, and many others have promoted tourism as both local and foreign tourists have been attracted to the area so as to see the various facilities. This has earned the country foreign exchange.

There has been the development of social and economic infrastructures as schools, health centers, recreation facilities, and many others have been set up in the area either by the government as part of the scheme or by the various industries established as part of their cooperation social responsibility. This has improved people`s standards of living in the area.

There has been a modification of climate from a semi-desert climate to a modified sub-tropical type due to the reforestation and afforestation carried out in the area as part of the project.

Foreign exchange is acquired after the export of power to neighboring Namibians as well as the export of various irrigation fields to other countries.

There has been the attraction of settlements into a formerly sparsely and underdeveloped area. North of South Africa was sparsely populated and rather undeveloped due to the harsh climatic conditions which cannot support agriculture and other activities but the success of the project attract settlements into the area.

There has been the development of towns and urban centers which started off as small trading centers but are now major towns with developed social and economic infrastructure for example Vanderkloof, Gariep, Torquay, Buchuburg, and many others.

The project promoted international relations between the Republic of South Africa and other countries in which it undertook the project that is Lesotho and Namibia and also other countries that sponsored
the project that is the UK and USA. This led to increased trade ties as well as economic growth and development.

Negatives effects or limitations of the orange river project

  • Pollution.
  • Development of towns and associated problems.
  • Rural urban migration and its consequences.
  • Displacement of people from the area.
  • Loss of silt in downstream areas.
  • Accidents that led to the death of workers as well as the destruction of property and the increased level of

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