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Food and Agriculture Organisation Projects in Chiredzi

For years now, rural communities in the South Eastern Lowveld have been adversely affected by food insecurity due poor rains. Natural disasters like floods, drought and epidemic diseases were also immensely contributory to the loss of human lives and domestic animals between 2008 and 2009. The situation saw many people crossing the river Limpopo to the neighbouring South Africa to look for greener pastures, leaving their large tracks of lands behind. This had also seen poor access to portable water hence the emergency of epidemic diseases like cholera. Very remote places like Malipati, Dhavhata and Pahlela were profusely disadvantaged by the drought since crops and cattle were devastated.  

However this drew the attention of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to enhance the lives of the people in wards 13, 14 and 15 of Chiredzi District. The project being Elnino Drought Response was aimed at the provision of clean water through the rehabilitation of boreholes in the respective wards. It was also aimed at the promotion of agricultural projects through the establishment of solar-powered gardens. The project saw 50 boreholes being rehabilitated and the setting up of 7 solar-powered gardens. As a local authority Chiredzi Rural District Council worked closely with the District Water and Sanitation Sub Committee (DWSSC) in the implementation of the project.

In interviews with some beneficiaries in wards 13, 14 and 15, they testify that the project actually brought a sigh of relief to their lives. To date, about 120 households benefit from the Manjinji Garden Scheme in Malipati ward 15. The garden has vegetables, tomatoes and maize grown for business at Malipati Business Centre. Cephas Muchini is an 80 year old beneficiary whose main interest is in farming. He does subsistence farming on his 3 hectare fertile land specialising in small grains due to little rains received in region 5. It was only in 2016 when he managed to produce for commercial purposes. Muchini explains that the Elnino Drought Response project has changed his life positively. He can now get the money to pay school fees for his grandchild and for other basic needs. By the way Muchini lives with wife Selina Chali and one grandchild Thomas and all the children have left for jobs in South Africa.

Before the intervention, the old man`s life was hard since he and his cattle used to walk about 4 km to get water from Mwenezi River. Now that a nearby borehole with a water trough is up and running, his family and cattle can get water any time.  

“It wasn’t easy at all; we had to walk long distances to get water since many boreholes were malfunctioning. I am happy that the boreholes are now functioning. I am also benefiting from the Manjinji Garden Scheme so I want to thank FAO and those involved in the implementation of the project” said Muchini with his eyes filled with genuine compassion. 

 Interactions with various communities in these three wards indicate that there are many profitable projects planned. In Pahlela ward 13, the community members have begun vegetable garden projects using water from the boreholes rehabilitated by the project. These communities also run a garden project using solar powered garden with a 10 000 litre tank. They target Chikombedzi Growth Point and they say that the garden has boosted business opportunities in the whole ward. Apart from garden projects, some have taken advantage of the boreholes and started moulding bricks for sale hence earning a living. The intervention of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in the South Eastern Lowveld proved to be highly successful and fruitful as evidenced by the development in wards 13, 14 and 15.

Open DFD

OPEN DEFECATION FREE CAMPAIGN IN CHIREDZI DISTRICT

For years, African communities with the inclusion of Chiredzi have been adversely affected by diarrhoeal diseases that are responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Zimbabwe. These deaths are mainly attributed to unclean water sources, shortages of sanitation facilities and other unhygienic living conditions.

In 2008, ward 20 of Chiredzi also succumbed to severe cholera pandemic which claimed lives of 50 community members. This saw many people in the affected communities incurring costs in a bid to have their affected friends and relatives treated. The government through Rural WASH Project with the aid of UNICEF and its implementing partner German Agro Action (GAA) took it upon itself to trigger communities in ward 20 on the importance of safe disposal ofhuman waste and drinking from clean water sources. This was done in order to instil behavioural and attitude change on the part of communities in ward 20.

Village 2B, 5B1 and 5B2 are a cluster of villages, with a total of 58 households, in ward 20 that heeded the call and formed sanitation action groups in each village to help push villagers to construct their own toilets and the upholding of general hygiene in the area. The villagers constructed toilets using their own funds and internal saving and money lending (mukando) played a major role in helping them achieve ODF status. Each village held celebrations congratulating themselves on achieving ODF status. 2B Glendevon were the first to attain ODF status in the cluster and to hold the celebrations. The celebrations had a spill over effect on the rest of the cluster, which encouraged them to follow suit hence it’s now an ODF free zone.

The clusters of villages have now been declared an open defecation free zone and the community had to build a billboard as a means to market their newly achieved status. The billboard also serves as a warning to visitors who visit the village not to practise open defecation.

The government on the 25th of May 2016 with the aid of UNICEF also chipped in to assist the villagers in ward 20 by constructing a borehole in village 2B Glendevon.The borehole caters for 149 households.

The villagers now have clean sources of drinking water and have constructed hand washing facilities (tip tap) around their homesteads. The villagers also came up with methods on how they were going to sustain their newly achieved status.

As one of the methods, they were going to continue with internal lending and saving (mukando) to assist them in the construction oflatrines that could have been damaged by natural or unnatural causes. They also came up with a constitution that stipulates waste management of the villages, and has penalties for those that breach the constitution.