UMCOR undertakes an innovative partnership in Zimbabwe to help those affected by climate change feed their families
By Terry Mukuka*
While El Niño-driven drought continues to impact countries around the world, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is undertaking an innovative partnership in Zimbabwe to help nearly 200,000 Zimbabweans tackle the harsh effects of climate change that make it increasingly more difficult for them to feed their families.
The goals of the partnership go beyond the cyclical provision of emergency food supplies. Rather, it seeks to help Zimbabweans in the Zambezi Valley to build resilience to adverse climate conditions by improving their productivity and capacity.
Some 45,000 families—185,000 people—will be impacted by the project, which is supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and involves a consortium of private companies and nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations.
Along with UMCOR, the consortium partners include the private enterprises Afrosoft Holdings Limited and African Breeders Services Total Cattle Management Private Limited (ABS TCM (Pvt.) Ltd.), as well as the humanitarian organization Action Aid International and a local NGO, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA).
The five partners signed an agreement to implement the project, which draws on UNDP’s $3.7 million Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund. Their partnership will take a resilience development approach and will focus on three districts of the Zambezi Valley: Binga, Kariba, and Mbire.
Working together as a consortium will allow UMCOR and its partners to expand the scope of programs and provide coverage for more households in a situation that is too challenging to be adequately addressed by a single organization.
UMCOR will work with the partners to set goals and provide monitoring and evaluation and technical advice, which will result in flexible and innovative strategies to increase families’ resilience to chronic food insecurity and the need for income and learning opportunities.
As private sector enterprises, Afrosoft Holdings Limited and ABS TCM bring expertise and innovation to the partnership. Afrosoft will help set up a cell phone-based system to provide farmers and institutions with real-time strategic information and an agro mall platform to facilitate market connections between farmers and agro-merchants. An agro mall is an electronic market platform that provides real-time information electronically to farmers and other interested persons and includes an option for sending information through text messaging to areas that are remote and have poor internet access.
ABS TCM will help communities build capacity to breed better quality, more marketable livestock through artificial insemination technology. They also will provide appropriate supplementary feed and support for fodder production.
UMCOR works directly with partners in Binga and Kariba, taking the lead in community engagement processes and the creation of assets intended to enhance community resilience.
Action Aid International will lead the coordination of partnership activities and the overall management of the grant, while ZELA will do research to inform their evidence-based advocacy work, produce publications on the connections between community rights and natural resources, and draft natural resources and environmental by-laws for target districts.
In the end, the partnership will prepare communities to withstand and recover from shocks and stresses triggered by the change in weather patterns and that currently leave many vulnerable families food insecure.
UMCOR is optimistic about the outcomes of this innovative partnership, and will continue to seek new ways to work across public and private sectors with local and international partners to support vulnerable people in rural Zimbabwe.
You can support UMCOR’s work in Zimbabwe and four other country offices — Sudan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Haiti—with your gift to UMCOR Sustainable Recovery and Development, Advance #3021951.
*Terry Mukuka is UMCOR program manager for the Zimbabwe, Haiti, and Democratic Republic of Congo country offices.