AMH is an independent media house free from political ties or outside influence. We have four newspapers: The Zimbabwe Independent, a business weekly published every Friday, The Standard, a weekly published every Sunday, and Southern and NewsDay, our daily newspapers. Each has an online edition.

People’s Choice : ‘Where there is a will…’

People's Choice Awards
Deep down in the recesses of Mberengwa district, where the only visible signs of technology are overhead power lines, is a thriving irrigation scheme.

Deep down in the recesses of Mberengwa district, where the only visible signs of technology are overhead power lines and a dusty road serviced by one battered bus and a sprinkling of private cars that occasionally pass through, is a thriving irrigation scheme.

First mooted in 2003 and only becoming fully functional during 2004 with the help and funding from CARE International the scheme is a sign of determination and hard work by the local communities led by a visionary, Malayini Shava Ziwerere.

Before the irrigation was established a group of villagers established nutritional gardens around Mubaiwa Dam haphazardly with no proper strategy or plan.

For Ziwerere this approach threatened the dam — just 5km from his shop — with siltation and along with it the livelihoods of most families.

At that point Ziwerere was a councillor. He used his influence to convince the first group of villagers into forming a co-operative which would fence off 2,5 hectares of land, thus sowing the seeds of what was later to become Mubaiwa Irrigation Scheme Phase 1.

The villagers were poor and could not raise money to fence their nutritional gardens.

Ziwerere decided to approach CARE International who assisted with a fence, cement to build water reservoirs and to buy PVC pipes for use in siphoning water from the dam and transporting it into the tanks.

The garden then became too small.As hunger begun to exact its toll on the villagers surrounding the dam an increasing number started looking at the irrigation scheme as their only hope for survival.

It also meant that there was a scramble for space to establish nutritional gardens around the dam. There are now 125 families dependent on Phases 1 and 2 of Mubaiwa Irrigation Scheme.

According to Chairman Shadreck Gumbo Phase 2 is on three hectares of land which has provided regular income for the families that grow and market produce from the scheme.

“This project has become self sustaining. Over the years that we have operated it we can undertake all repair work, send some of our members to attend farming workshops where they learn new ideas and farming methods so that we continue to improve our yields,” he said.

Mberengwa is an area ravaged by AIDs and HIV and there are more child-headed families where children struggle to put food on their table.

However, because of the scheme they can afford to pay their own fees, buy food and Philip Zhou describes how the irrigation scheme has changed his life because of the money it generates.

“A 10m x 1 m bed of tomatoes produces six buckets of tomatoes on the first harvest. A bucket fetches an average of US$10 on the market. I have 12 of these beds and you can just imagine how much I will generate,” he said.

In rural Mberengwa US$60 is a lot of money and can go a long way in supporting the education requirements of five children through primary school.

Ziwerere also opened a school of cutting and designing named after him — the Ziwerere Vocational Training Centre — at his shop after he bought 10 sewing machines at an auction.

He enrols orphans for free at the school where his wife, Taurai Shava, teaches. The school is supported by the donor community through provision of sewing material.

The dresses made at the school are either sold or worn by those who make them or members of their families.

Prince Hove and Evidence Siziba are among some of the orphans who have graduated from the school during the past year.