Zimbabwe: Councillors commend ERF-supported project

29 April, 2011
Ms Anna Nyarienda at her portion of the Garden in Masvingo Credit: OCHA/Zimbabwe
Ms Anna Nyarienda at her portion of the Garden in Masvingo Credit: OCHA/Zimbabwe

Just a few months ago, 42-year-old Anna Nyarienda could not afford to feed, clothe or educate her family. She had lost hope for a better life.

“I used to do odd jobs in exchange for a plate of food,” she says. Limited employment opportunities in rural areas of Masvingo province often force productive young people to migrate to urban areas or neighbouring South Africa, but Anna could not leave her children.

However, Anna is now delighted because she finally has a source of income and can take care of her family through a community garden project supported by the Emergency Response Fund (ERF). The project has enhanced food security for over 4,800 households in the traditionally arid area of Masvingo, Zimbabwe.

“People in the community are now getting food easily,” says Mrs. Evelyn Mugadziwa, a ward councillor in Masvingo province. Another councillor, Mr. Philemon Chigamba, echoes her sentiment, noting that the community is no longer solely dependent on food aid.

This is one of 21 projects that ERF has funded since the beginning of 2010. ERF-supported projects in agriculture, health, capacity building and water, sanitation and hygiene total $3.9 million in Zimbabwe alone.

The market gardens project helps people harvest food in 63 community gardens across Masvingo province, which ensures domestic food security and a steady income from excess food sold in markets. The intervention aims to improve water access and management of the gardens. In partnership with Care International, ERF has supported initiatives to ensure community gardens have a constant water supply throughout the year.

The project involved the installation of pipe networks and construction of elevated tanks, among other activities. Prior to ERF support, communities had to fetch water manually from water sources, which took up most of their productive time. By incorporating technologies like treadle pumps, a pipe network was created and people can now connect hosepipes to the nearest tap and water their gardens.

These well-irrigated gardens will cushion against shocks induced by recurring drought and crop failure in the future. Furthermore, people can now sell excess produce in markets, afford school fees for their children, provide for their families and interact with neighbours.

“It has unified the community,” says Mr. Chigamba. “There is now greater demand for such projects and as a councillor my challenge is helping more people start.”

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