United Nations agencies of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme are implementing projects to ensure food security in communities in the drought-prone Masvingo Province.
WFP Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) Project
Courtesy of a United Nations in Zimbabwe organised media tour, this publication visited the Chebvute area located in Tadzembwa Village, Ward 17 Masvingo Rural District. The area lies in Natural Region 4 and experiences erratic rainfall inadequate for any meaningful agricultural production. The area has for a long time been targeted for food assistance by Government and humanitarian organisations, working to avert chronic hunger.
It was noted that the first community attempt to construct the Chebvute weir was in the year 2000. The attempt was led by the then headmaster of Mapakomhere Secondary school. Proposals were written to Masvingo Rural District Council and a private Engineer pegged the dam site. For 17 years, no other efforts or funds were channelled towards the project. A group of 28 community members constructed a 0.2Ha garden less than 5 meters from the current weir site and started gardening activities as a cooperative. The cooperative is still functional but all the 28 community members have been incorporated into the WFP Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) project.“Because of a Community Based Participatory Planning (CBPP) process, the community prioritised such an asset, and WFP supplied funds and NFIs for the construction of a 4,5m high masonry weir completed in November 2017. The project also established a 2Ha garden, orchard, tree nurseries, indigenous poultry, pigeons, apiculture and 2 x 1000 m2 fish ponds. In 2018 the project was enhanced by upgrading of the water supply system, catchment protection works and 2.3km access road creation. A total of 48 villages participated in the 2017 and 2018 WFP Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) project. Rainfall in February 2018 filled the weir for the first time and the community started working in the garden. A borehole was also constructed providing safe access to water 213 people from 42 households and to the students from Mapakomhere Secondary and Tadzembwa Primary schools,” said Eng Julius Swadi, the Chairperson of the Chebvute Food Assistance Food for Asset project.R4 Rural Resilience InitiativeChebvute is the first ward where the R4 Rural Resilience Approach (R4) was rolled out in 2018. The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative is an integrated approach that brings together different layers of risk management activities, such as asset creation, promotion of savings and access to credit, and weather index insurance. Outside Zimbabwe, the programme is present across 5 other countries (Ethiopia, Se Kenya, Malawi, Zambia), benefiting 300,000 people. In Zimbabwe, R4 aims at reaching 50,000 people by 2021, in Masvingo and Ru Districts.Besides the four risk management activities, in Zimbabwe R4 also supports farmers ’ access to markets, linking them to WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, as well as introducing climate services to improve farmers’ decision making in the context of climate change and erratic rainfall patterns.Chebvute Dam BenefitsSwadi said the new weir holds enough water to last from one rainy season to the next; whereas the old only lasted through July. Currently 3050 beneficiaries, with an estimated total of 670 cattle as well as goats, sheep and donkeys, are benefiting from the weir. The distance travelled by livestock to watering point is now significantly reduced. Provision of adequate drinking water will alleviate drought induced livestock diseases and deaths, maintain the livestock in generally good condition and prevent disposal of livestock at very low prices and unfair trading terms.Fish FarmingThe fish ponds were stocked with 12,000 fish in January 2018. The first harvest was done in November 2018 in which a total of 123kg of fish were harvested. In 2019 the beneficiaries managed to stock additional 10,000 fingerlings.Nutrition Garden Benefits93 garden beneficiaries are benefiting directly from the 1.1 Ha garden, cultivating a variety of crops (cabbage, sugar beans, rape, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes) on about 1 hectare.0.3 Ha orchard was planted with fruit trees such as mangoes, oranges, naartjies, avocadoes for improved nutrition and dietary diversity. The beneficiaries have just sold 100 chickens which had reached 6 weeks. The garden beneficiaries harvested 0.4ha of sugar beans. They have also planted 0.3 ha of sweet potatoes and they planted 2208 tomato plants. The asset beneficiaries were trained on fruit production and encouraged to grow indigenous and exotic fruit trees at their homesteads. They were also trained on compost making and fertility trenches.The garden beneficiaries were trained by Agritex on how to draft a constitution and how to enforce it. The constitution went through all the by-laws processes and is now in full enforcement.The garden will also enable the community to graduate from being vulnerable to shocks to being resilient through crop and veg production for both consumption and sale.
FAO implemented Smallholder Irrigation Support Programme (SIP)
A Synopsis of Stanmore B Irrigation Scheme, Masvingo District, Masvingo Province
Stanmore B Irrigation Scheme is located in Masvingo District of Masvingo Province, 30km East of Masvingo City. The smallholder farmer-managed irrigation scheme lies in agro-ecological region IV characterised by very low and erratic rainfall. The semi portable irrigation system pumping plant and the infield infrastructure were in a state of disrepair and was not operating in 2014. The scheme applied for support under the FAO implemented Smallholder Irrigation Support Programme (SIP) and was selected as one of the 34 schemes to be rehabilitated across Masvingo, Manicaland and Matabeleland South provinces.Feasibility assessments were carried out and they informed the design of the irrigation system.
The FAO-Smallholder Irrigation Programme led to the construction of a pump house and installation of pumping unit at Stanmore B. FAO also installed a new pipeline. It repaired and replaced leaking pipes, hydrants, gate valves and hoses. The UN agency installed a perimeter fence, drilled and equipped one boreholes for portable water, built three double squat hole toilets and constructed a scheme shed at a cost of US$5 620.
FAO carried out a number of capacity building initiatives for the farmers at Stanmore B Irrigation Scheme. There was a Training of Trainers programme for the Agritex Extension Worker and Supervisor on Farming as a Business (FaaB), Agronomy, Good Scheme Governance and Operation and Maintenance of the irrigation system.
It also facilitated the training of farmers and the Irrigation Management Committees on FaaB, Agronomy, Good Scheme Governance and Operation and Maintenance of the irrigation system. Of great importance was the deployment of the FAO Farm Manager for enhanced day to day management of the irrigation scheme. The farmers also developed cropping calendars, crop budgets, and training manuals.
There was also the brokering and strengthening of agricultural finance, input and output markets linkage relationships with public and private sector players. Value Chain Analysis and Agro-processing surveys were also undertaken and Irrigation Engineers and a Technician from the Department of Irrigation attached to the irrigation scheme were trained. The Department of Irrigation was equipped with consumables, tools, equipment and a vehicle used to provide support to all irrigation schemes in the program.
The project registered key milestones and sustainability prospects. It resulted in improved household socio-economic status. In addition to being food secure, some of the farmers have drilled boreholes for clean drinking water, paid off school fees for their dependents whereas others (2) bought cars using proceeds from the irrigation scheme.
Enhanced irrigation management structures are now in place. The improved irrigation scheme governance is a driving force for the sustainability of smallholder irrigation schemes. FAO adopted the lead farmer approach to demonstrate and influence effectiveness of farmer training and adoption of improved technologies.