OVER 100 000 Nkayi villagers are facing starvation, a government official has said.
BY VANESSA GONYE IN NKAYI
Speaking to journalists during a tour, district development co-ordinator Matilda Mlothswa said Nkayi had been hit hard by drought.
Mlotshwa said they had resorted to cattle ranching to augment food deficiencies.
“We are one of the poorest districts in the country. Our sandy soils are not good for farming and the dryness makes it difficult to access water. People are just surviving under very difficult conditions,” she said.
Mlotshwa said despite the dry spell, they were relying on subsistence farming, mainly small grains as a means to fight the hunger.
She hailed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in her district for helping in staving off hunger.
“The people here are hardworking when NGOs come they are eager to be helped. As a district, we are very grateful for the NGOs. We hope more will come to train us on how to empower ourselves,” she said.
About 28 out of the 30 wards in the district were affected by drought, she said.
The Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF)-Matabeleland Enhanced Livelihoods Agriculture and Nutrition Adaptation (MELANA) project has been launched to work with communities in the district as well as three other districts in Matabeleland North and South.
ZRBF-MELANA markets adviser Rodney Mushongachiware said they were focusing on promotion of small grain production as these are more drought-tolerant and can sustain the people during dry spells.
“We are encouraging seed banks of local genetically-preserved seeds as a fall-back plan so that when the initial seed fails to germinate, one can still go to the seed bank for another seed and re-sow,” he said.
“We are also encouraging bushmeal stockfeed production to mitigate loss of livestock during droughts and also cattle feed swop where we have destocking in exchange of stockfeed. This is an initiative with MC Meats Abattoir,” he said.
ZRBF-MELANA is working to break cycles of poverty and food insecurity entrapping the country’s most vulnerable communities.
The programme began in July 2016 and will end in March 2021.
The project was implemented in Nkayi, Bubi, Umguza in Matabeleland North and in Umzingwane district in Matabeleland South provinces.
It is a long-term development initiative supported by the Lands and Agriculture ministry with funding from the European Union, Embassy of Sweden, United Nations Development Programme and the United Kingdom Development for International Development to the tune of US$80 million.