UMCOR’s sustainable agriculture training in Zimbabwe provide long-lasting solutions to complex needs.
James Rollins, UMCOR
By Julia Kayser, Taneal Kamuzungu, Nomalanga Marimo-Matanga, and Tendai Matemadombo*
January 18, 2013—In Zimbabwe, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is bringing hope to communities in need through programs that increase food security, combat malaria, promote education, and improve hygiene. The UMCOR programs include education and training for sustainable change instead of a quick fix for complex problems.
The focus of UMCOR’s work in Zimbabwe has been in the provinces of Manicaland and Mashonaland East, and the organization has received great appreciation from its partner communities.
Food Security and Agriculture
In October 2012, UMCOR began operating in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe (UMP) District in Mashonaland East as a cooperating partner of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). Together, we are providing seasonal targeted assistance to 27,774 vulnerable individuals through March 2013.
But Zimbabwe needs to transition from food aid to sustainable food security. So, UMCOR’s Sustainable Agriculture and Development unit is providing training in moringa tree farming, apiculture (bee farming) and its Integrated Crop and Pest Management program to United Methodist Church missions and smallholder farmers in the surrounding communities in three districts. According to a 2011 report by UNICEF and the government of Zimbabwe, more than one in three children in the country suffer chronic malnutrition.
In coordination with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health, UMCOR has been implementing a malaria-control program in Chimanimani district. To date, we have distributed 21,343 long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) to 43,533 individuals in six wards of Chimanimani. In the second phase of the program, we will distribute another 22,000 nets to some 40,000 individuals in the other six wards of the district. In Zimbabwe, malaria is a leading cause of death of children under five years of age.
An anonymous beneficiary in Mhandarume had this to say about the net distribution: “I would like to thank UMCOR for the trainings, the brochures on malaria, and the mosquito nets… Malaria is one of the top five health problems in this community…. I now know both personal and environmental prevention methods.”
UMCOR is also working on a pilot project for orphans and vulnerable children in Chimanimani. To date, 300 primary and secondary school students in the Cashel and Chikukwa wards have received support for school fees, uniforms, and learning materials, and another 50 children will receive vocational training support at a government training institution.
Mr. Tendai Chitopo is the headmaster of one of the benefiting schools. He says, “The Chikukwa ward was isolated from many development partners because of its location, but through this program, you are enlightening the community about the importance of educating their children.”
In partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Services, UMCOR also has trained Child Protection Committees for the ward, the villages, and the schools. Child Protection Committees address the needs of vulnerable children for shelter, education, and other social assistance at these various levels. They typically include village heads, village health workers, ward councilors, traditional leaders, religious leaders, youth representatives, and nongovernmental organization representatives. With one in four children orphaned of at least one parent, these committees are crucial. UMCOR’s role is to help them build up their capacity to be effective.
In March 2012, UMCOR completed the renovation of the water system at the Nyadire Mission in Mutoko District in Mashonaland East. We also trained a water committee to maintain the water system, and provided hygiene education to the community. More than 4,000 people now have access to clean water, and UMCOR is beginning to see in the residents those behavioral changes that promote health and hygiene, such as increased hand washing.
Your gifts to Zimbabwe Emergency, UMCOR Advance #199456, support programs like these and have a long-lasting impact in the communities where we work.
*Julia Kayser is a writer and a regular contributor to www.umcor.org. For UMCOR Zimbabwe, Taneal Kamuzungu is special projects manager, Nomalanga Marimo-Matanga is Monitoring and Evaluation officer, and Tendai Matemadombo is senior program manager.