THE sweltering heat in Mudzi drove livestock in search of shade in the nearby thickets. Despite the rainy season being at its peak, the area has gone for a month without a single drop of rain, leaving villagers pondering at the possibility of another failed harvest.
BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Crops planted during the onset of the rainy season have wilted due to the long dry spell. From Kotwa business centre into Mudzi South constituency, it is evident that villagers have nothing for food, let alone water for the livestock, as the rivers have since dried up.
However, in the midst of the absolute dryness, one cannot miss the lavish and ever green big garden at the heart of the constituency, a project that has given the people a glimpse of hope, as far as hunger alleviation is concerned.
Givemore Mutedza (43), the production manager at the 1,5ha Mapombo nutritional garden, says the water harvesting project has gone a long way in alleviating hunger for vulnerable members of the society from the surrounding villages by providing irrigation facilities.
“This area is well-known for its dryness and successive droughts, but we are happy that the water harvesting and the nutritional garden project have brought hope to many villagers, as we are irrigating various crops all year round. We started off with a one hectare piece of land, but today we have added more land as production is growing,” he said.
The Nyathi and Mapombo nutritional garden projects are funded by the World Food Programme (WFP) and implemented by World Vision under the food assistance for assets (FFA) programme.
Under the FFA programme, a total of eight assets were created or rehabilitated in Mudzi and these include weir dams, construction and repairing of dip tanks, gravity-fed nutrition gardens and fish ponds among others.
A visit to the project site denotes that farmers are irrigating crops including maize, cucumbers and sweet potatoes.
Village head, David Chimhango (72), said apart from crop production, the project has benefitted their livestock, as the weir dam is now a source of drinking water.
“We are happy with this project, as our livestock now have a source to drink. A lot of villages and schools around also come to fetch water for domestic purposes here since we have a solar powered borehole,” he said.
Villages benefitting from the project include Mapombo, Spanera, Ndamba and Taona among others, while the nearest school Mapombo is also benefiting from water at the site.
World Vision commodities officer, Gift Chikanga, said the project has improved nutritional value in a number of households, as well as ensuring food security.
The nutritional garden project has 64 small plots, with beneficiaries having a vegetable market at the nearby Makaha business centre.
About 60km west of Mudzi is another equally dry community, Rushinga, in Mashonaland Central province.
Five assets were created or rehabilitated in Rushinga district through the Community Technology Development Organisation (CTDO).
Ward 17 councillor, Beauty Makanga said the construction of Manyeredzi weir dam has eased the burden of providing water for their livestock.
“The water harvesting project is indeed a blessing to this community in that we used to travel about 15km for water to the nearby Gulliver dam. It was tiresome and we lost livestock to crocodiles. The water shortage and long distance was stressing to the animals themselves and resulted in poor calving rate. The rate has since improved, thanks to the weir dam,” she said.
FFA is one of WFP’s flagship initiatives aimed at addressing the most food insecure people’s immediate food needs with cash, vouchers or food transfers and improving their long term food security and resilience.
The programme is one of the efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 on ending hunger, achieving food security, improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.
CTDO assistant programme manager, Marceline Fusire, said the projects are meant to curb the negative effects of climate change in Rushinga.
“Climate change has hit our nation and the region at large. We are looking at most of our rivers getting dry hence a greater risk of losing livestock due to water shortages.
“Because of that, water harvesting is one of the remedies to ensure availability of water for livestock.
“The communities are also benefiting in having water for domestic purposes like irrigation for the nutrition garden. We also engage Agritex officials to train the community on how to use the water sustainably for their own benefit to avoid siltation,” she said.
There are 48 villages benefiting from Manyeredzi weir dam.
Fusire said the nutrition garden has ensured food security for the 75 households as well as averting malnutrition among children.
Mudzi and Rushinga are some of the driest districts in the country, that lie in the ecological region four and receive an average of 400mm rainfall each annually.
With the country suffering from the detrimental effects of climate change, mainly severe droughts, water harvesting has become one of the best ways for alleviating.
Recently the government announced the command water harvesting programme that will see transformation of lives mainly in the rural areas, if well implemented.