Fifty-eight families in Mana Pools along the Zambezi Valley are set to benefit from an irrigation project after the United States embassy came to their rescue by pouring $40 000 for electric fencing, solar pumps and market gardening crop inputs.
Funding was provided through the US Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Programme.
The area is infested by wildlife and gardens were constantly destroyed by game, resulting in the families failing to get any meaningful harvests.
The project was commissioned by US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray on Tuesday.
“The market garden that is part of this grant will allow the rangers and their families to grow healthy, nutritious food. It will also provide a source of fresh, locally grown produce for purchase by safari operators for their clients, thereby generating income for the ranger community,” said Ray.
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority area manager Marvellous Mbikayana said: “It was a real nightmare for the rangers and their families. The wild animals would just eat up vegetables hence this project has really come at the right time.”
Chairperson of the project Hilda Zunza said the project would generate employment for the families.
“We were facing big problems. We used to get vegetables at least once a month, which was not sustainable. We were also not working, but now at least we have something to keep us busy. We can’t go to the Zambezi River as there is a lot of wildlife,” she said.
Mana Pools is the country’s third largest national park, after Hwange and Gonarezhou, with the highest lion population and a significant mass of elephants, among other game species.