In Zimbabwe, Rural Women Fight Climate Change with Livelihood Projects
By Andrew Mambondiyani
MAKONI WEST, ZIMBABWE – Amid the country’s deepening climate change induced poverty, women in rural Makoni district, eastern Zimbabwe are now fully participating in various income-generating projects to fight adverse impacts of climate change.
“We are happy about these (livelihoods) projects,” vice-chairperson of Handusi Piggery Project in Makoni district, Chipo Muposi, told the Ruralreporters.com.
“As women, we used to spend a lot of time sitting at home, but we are now able to work for our families,” she said.
The community projects, which include a piggery and gravity fed irrigation scheme, poultry, cattle pen fattening and fish farming are running under the auspices of Makoni Green Fields, a programme spearheaded by World Vision, an international humanitarian organisation.
The projects are covering Makoni district’s Wards 14, 24, 25, 26 and 39 which has a population of more than 33,000 people.
The piggery project started with only 11 pigs in September 2016. Today, the number of pigs has risen to 90.
Besides the piggery project, rural women are also running gravity-fed irrigation scheme and will soon expand to the fishery. The local traditional leaders provided a five-hectare piece of land for the projects, and the gravity-fed irrigation system gets water from a river which cuts across a mountain about 4.5 kilometres away.
The community piped the water to the project site and are currently using two tanks which have combined the capacity of 10 000 litres pending the construction of a 70 000 litre water tank.
“Our forefathers used to harness this water using gravity, but this water harvesting had been stopped for years. We are now resuscitating it,” Muposi said.
Also there are six 20x30m fish ponds under construction in the same area. There is an interdependent relationship between the horticultural project, fish farming and piggery projects as products from one project can feed the other. This will then reduce the costs of feeds and inputs such as fertilisers.
At the Zvapungu Cattle Pen Fattening project in the same district, a project comprised of 28 members, Sostina Chikanya said most people in the area used to think cattle fattening was a preserve of men.
“As women, we are learning how to look after our cattle. This project looks bright, and we are hoping to expand,” Chikanya said.
The pen fattening projects bring a shift in cattle rearing by introducing entrepreneurship in livestock farming. The fattening concept is centred on reconditioning and adding some weight to the animals during a short period of between 70 and 90 days. The animals are fed on a high-energy diet and adequate protein to increase the mass of the animal for slaughter.
Tommy Kambudzi who chairs Wazungu Cattle Fattening project said the project had sold 13 of their cattle recently.
“We have cattle pens which can hold up to 40 beasts and are have bought more beasts for fattening which are arriving any day from now,” Kambudzi said.
After selling, 70 percent of the profits go to community projects while the remaining 30 percent is shared among the project members.
A representative for the traditional leader in the area, Shepard Chiduku told Ruralreporters.com that the projects had brought development to the area, which for years has been marginalized.
“Many people are now seeing the benefits of the project,” he said.
A local councillor, Basil Nyambiya said while World Vision provided technical and financial support, the projects where owned by the community.
“They are community projects, and we will make them continue to thrive even when World Vision is gone,” Nyambiya said. “They are our projects not World Vision projects”.
World Vision Zimbabwe Advocacy and Communications Manager, Andrew Shamu, said his organisation was implementing various climate change resilience projects across the whole country.
“We are working with communities disadvantaged by natural inadequacy like droughts,” Shamu said, adding that his organisation was promoting sustainable food security and livelihoods, health and water, sanitation and hygiene, education and child protection.
“We work with the government to see areas which are disadvantaged. Communities identify their needs and mobilise the resources,” he said.
Makoni Greenfields project is one of 31 such similar projects running across the whole running for 10 to 15 years since 2012, Shamu said.
“This (Greenfields) project aims to see all children enjoying good health through access to nutritious foods and adequate health facilities while regularly attending school in a community that respects and protect their rights,” Shamu said.