Thanks to an UMCOR project created in Kariba District, Zimbabwe, Tendai Chimera is able to harvest vegetables during drought seasons, and is receiving an income from the sale of surplus produce. Photo: Terry Mukuka
Communities in Zimbabwe thrive in the midst of drought through UMCOR's integrated approach aiming to reach 39,000 people
By Emmanuel Kasvosva*
Tendai Chimera, a 35-year-old single mother of three, is thriving in the midst of drought in Zimbabwe. She is feeding her family by harvesting and even bartering crops from her small plot with its gravity-fed irrigation system, a project of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to help local farmers confront devastating effects of the El Niño weather pattern.
For many local farmers in Zimbabwe, El Niño is synonymous with grief. Throughout 2015 and 2016, it has brought searing heat and sparse rainfall, leading to drought and poor harvests.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), estimates about 31.6 million people all across southern Africa are already food-insecure because of El Niño, a situation that is likely to deteriorate and reach its peak between December 2016 and April 2017.
Zimbabwe is one of the worst-affected countries in the region, according to the U.N., with an estimated 5 million people — half the country’s rural population — currently suffering drought. Last February, the government of Zimbabwe declared a state of disaster and issued a domestic and international appeal for assistance to benefit children.
Through its country office in Zimbabwe, UMCOR is responding in severely affected regions of the country in Mashonaland West (Kariba District) and Mashonaland East (UMP District). It is applying an integrated response that encompasses food security and nutrition, livelihoods, health, and access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, and aiming to reach about 39,000 people.
Chimera was selected as one of the beneficiaries of Nyamakara Community Nutrition Center, which UMCOR created in Kariba District and now supports by training users. Her plot relies on gravity-fed irrigation from the Nyamakara spring protection project, also supported by UMCOR.
“Irrigation is the only way to defeat hunger in our community, as rain-fed agriculture has constantly disappointed us,” Chimera said.
She is now harvesting vegetables for her family’s consumption and receiving income from the sale of surplus produce. She also barters some of her surplus for household commodities such as soap or salt. With three children and no other economic support, Chimera indicated that life would have been difficult without the UMCOR project.
Many families like Tendai’s have benefited during these difficult times from UMCOR’s work with their communities, where they have created fishponds, market stalls, small earth dams, dip tanks, community nutrition centers, and spring water protection works.
Erina Mawire, UMCOR’s head of mission in Zimbabwe underscored, “In an event of a sudden shock, such as a drought, a short- and long-term integrated community strategy that includes food security, health, and nutrition components can help communities thrive.
You can support programs like this one in Zimbabwe and elsewhere when you give to UMCOR Sustainable Recovery and Development, Advance #3021951.
*Emmanuel Kasvosva is the Kariba district manager for UMCOR’s Zimbabwe country office.