By Nigel Gambanga, Welthungerhilfe
More than 4,000 households in the Midlands have gained access to an additional supply of freshwater, courtesy of a borehole rehabilitation and establishment exercise in the province. The initiative started in the first half of 2020 and is being carried out by the Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP), which is a United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) funded programme.
The boreholes are the latest capacity development initiative from LFSP, which operates as the Extension and Training for Rural Agriculture Project (EXTRA) in the Midlands province. LFSP is working in partnership with the government of Zimbabwe to increase incomes and reduce poverty in three provinces and ten rural districts that include Gokwe North, Gokwe South, Kwekwe and Shurugwi.
Under the EXTRA Project, 18 boreholes servicing over 100 villages with over 4,300 households have been rehabilitated by the programme so far. Two additional sites in Gokwe North have already been identified for drilling. The project’s work has been accelerated by the communities’ support and involvement, with villagers contributing local resources such as river sand, pit sand, timber materials and ¾ stones, as well as labour.
Speaking on the progress of the initiative, Johannes Chikarate, the Head of Project for LFSP EXTRA, highlighted the importance of water delivery in securing agricultural production and reinforcing sanitation in the rural farming communities.
“Ordinarily, these villages rely solely on rainwater to drive horticultural production, which is key to securing income and meeting their nutrition needs throughout the year. The same water source is also meant to support livestock related activities such as communal dipping. Our intervention in these communities will mitigate the risks associated with this and plug the gap created by last season’s dry spell. It will also establish a fresh water source that supports water and sanitation health efforts, especially in the face of COVID-19.”
Zimbabwe experienced a drought in the 2019-2020 farming season, which resulted in reduced agricultural output and a poor performance across most value chains. With climate change affecting rain distribution in this manner, communities that rely heavily on agricultural production have been left exposed.
According to Ronald Tirivavi, the head of Extension Services for LFSP EXTRA, horticultural production with a commercial focus needs to be augmented by additional water sources.
“To manage the growing risk of climate change, market driven horticultural practices can no longer be sustained by rainwater alone. Investments in alternative sources help manage this dynamic.”
LFSP’s efforts to improve food production have not been limited to the support of horticulture practices. The programme is working hand in hand with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement to promote conservation agriculture practices like the Pfumvudza concept. Since its inception in 2014, it has conducted training and skills development aimed at improving crop and livestock production at household level.
The Zimbabwe Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP) is funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO). It is a multi-partner programme launched in 2014. It is managed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Palladium, and implemented by various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), private sector and research and academia partners. The programme aims to contribute to poverty reduction through increased income for 200,000 smallholder farming households from selected districts in Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Midlands Province. It seeks to do this by improving agricultural productivity, increasing consumption of diverse and nutritious foods, and improving and diversifying incomes. Each province is managed by a different cluster of NGOs. The EXTRA (Extension and Training support for Rural Agriculture) is the Midlands Province cluster for LFSP. It operates in the four target districts of Shurugwi, Kwekwe Gokwe North and Gokwe South. Welthungerhilfe is the lead partner for the Midlands cluster where it works together with Heifer International, CTDO, We Effect, Icrisat and Harvest Plus.
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