CHIREDZI — Thousands of Shangani-speaking people from Bondela communal lands in Chiredzi South got a lifeline from the Japanese government which provided $1,4 million for the construction of a weir dam for irrigation projects as well as food aid for six months.
By Tatenda Chitagu
Japanese ambassador to Zimbabwe, Toshiyuki Iwado, handed over the Chipere Weir Dam project, nutrition garden as well as the food aid in ward 14, Bondela area under Chief Sengwe on Wednesday.
The dam project, set to be completed by end of October, will benefit 550 households from the area, while the food aid, which runs for six months and distributed through World Food Programme and Plan, the implementing partners in the project, will benefit 1 900 households in the district.
The food items include 40 000 litres of cooking oil, 570 metric tonnes of maize, 114 metric tonnes of pulses. Chipere Weir Dam has a holding capacity of 40 000 litres.
Speaking at the event, Iwado said despite his country being plagued by natural disasters last year, it has continued to support Zimbabwe because it has first-hand experience of how it feels.
“Needless to say, my home country, Japan, is not immune to natural disasters either. And having experienced such disasters ourselves, we have developed deeper empathy towards the suffering of affected communities, supporting people to restore their lives and promoting their resilience,” he said.
Iwado said in the past two years, his country has over $4,4 million in support for victims of natural disasters in Zimbabwe.
“Following our support through WFP last year, Japan is once again supporting the people of Chiredzi district by providing food and productive asset creation opportunities. I hope that the productive asset creation opportunities will make you more resilient to natural threats in the future,” Iwado said.
Speaking at the same event, WFP country director Eddie Rowe thanked the community for their commitment to the dam project after they provided their labour for free.
“I see too many families that have been unable to build up their livelihoods, or build upon their dreams for a better life. But I also see a community that refuses to give up on those dreams. I see 550 committed and powerful households that are taking control of their lives through their own hearts and hands, working on this site. This community is a model of empowerment!” he said.
Rowe said WFP and Plan will stock the dam with fish and start poultry, rabbit and beekeeping projects for the villagers. He said this will improve the families’ food security and cushion them from climate-related shocks.
Plan International interim director William Mutero said the dam project came as a result of the need to harvest water in the area that annually receives erratic rains.
“Each year, most households have been experiencing unreliable yields. The completion of this weir will ensure communities can start sustainable projects to improve their nutrition and improve the water situation in this community.
Chipere Weir Dam committee chair, Amos Baloyi said the construction of the dam, mooted in 1998, is a dream come true for the community. He said apart from proving water for gardens, it will also provide drinking water for
1 200 cattle.
“We came about the idea in 1998 after seeing the gravity of water problems here and we were looking for support. We even raised money ourselves in 2000 and looked for an engineer who recommended that the area was good for a weir dam. The dream was still in our hearts. Finally, the dream is now a reality.
“We hope we will be weaned from donor assistance and sell market gardening produce.” Councillor for the area, Mbuneni Baloyi the people depend on selling cattle for survival as crops fail every year and hence the donations have been timely.