Mhondoro Rural Development Project, Zimbabwe
Mhondoro is one of the most drought prone areas in Zimbabwe and communities there have lost their capacity to cope and recover from the repeated droughts. Most of these rural households have land, labour and members with skills in traditional farming but have no education, no savings and poor access to markets. This means that they are farming at the subsistence level and have little hope of progressing beyond this on their own.
The aim of this project is to improve livelihood strategies, alleviate the suffering of a vulnerable rural population and reduce the vulnerability of rural communities to food security in the Chegutu District of Zimbabwe.
This programme seeks to reduce the communities vulnerability to the challenges outlined above through three intervention strategies:
- Improving water supply to 300 farms by repairing irrigation systems, water delivery systems and installation of strategically placed water resources;
- Developing the capital base for 300 vulnerable farmers by establishing savings and lending schemes, increasing agricultural inputs and improving access to local markets;
- Capacity building training for 300 farmers in the areas of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) agronomic practices, animal husbandry and irrigation techniques.
Importance of Agriculture to Zimbabwe
Agriculture is of fundamental importance to Zimbabwe, contributing significantly to food security and the overall gross Domestic Product (GDP). The full value and potential of agriculture remains largely unrealised leading to food insecurity, loss of income, nutritional deficiencies and increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS which forces farmers into selling productive household assets in order to survive. The continuous selling of livestock as a coping mechanism has reduced drought power and reduced agricultural production. With the few head of livestock now left, communities still engage in poor animal husbandry practices leading to further reductions in livestock numbers,
The Redemptorist inspired project proposes to tackle the problems facing this rural community and capacitate them to grow sufficient amounts of food so that they are food secure and have spare capacity to sell produce and improve food and livelihood security. This will be achieved by tackling the following five specific problems;
- Lack of access to water for poor farmers by rebuilding irrigation schemes which failed in 2007;
- Lack of access to agricultural inputs for poor farmers by establishing seed voucher system
- Lack of access to micro-credit to develop farms by establishing internal lending and saving schemes and support groups
- Vulnerability to climatic and economic shocks will be tackled by implementation of capacity building programme involving agronomic practices, irrigation techniques and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies;
- Lack of access to markets for poor farmers will be tackled by developing market linkages, preservation and post harvest management.
The Redemptorists are investing €100,000 in the Mhondoro Project with grants and support from Misean Cara and SERVE. The project is led by a Redemptorist and the project is being implemented in partnership with Caritas.