Zimbabwe is a country that seems to live with serious challenges – challenges that are political, economic and social. But an additional threat over the last year has been on the extreme weather front. Severe drought has affected much of the country and a cyclone left a wake of destruction.
Learning to live with the weather is yet another challenge facing Zimbabwe. Commitment for Life is working through Christian Aid partners to help communities improve their resilience for the next time bad weather hits the country.
The Zirugo family in a village in the north-east has been blazing a trail in this direction. They were trained in drought-resistant farming by Christian Air partner the Community Technology Development Organisation, and have now opened up a demonstration plot to share their training with 200 local famers.
There the family, led by Janet as the lead famer in the programme, share their training on conservation agriculture, soil fertility management and crop rotation. Janet is supported by her husband Jameson, her daughter Nyarai, and her two teenage grandchildren Zinairo and Tatenda, who are keen to follow in their grandmother’s footsteps.
Local famers have started producing drought-tolerant small gains such as Amaranth, a protein-rich crop whose seeds have consistency similar to quinoa when cooked. This grain is not native to Zimbabwe but many families are now growing it successfully in drought conditions. This year they have also grown sorgum, pearl millet, finger millet, groundnuts, cowpeas and sugar beans.
Daughter Nyarai has been training, supported by her mother and father, in poultry production for indigenous birds, learning how to tend livestock despite extreme weather conditions. The family have already seen a huge increase in their own chickens from 12 to 70, thanks to skills she learnt to build a well-ventilated and spacious fowl run.
Janet has big plans for the future. She said, ‘Before being part of this project, we used to grow mostly maize. Now with climate change affecting the weather, this is no longer possible.
‘As a family, we are grateful for the support and training we have received from Christian Aid. I can now access more markets, meaning I can meet the school requirements for my grandchildren and other household expenditures.
‘I hope to be able to link to bigger markets outside my own district and to become a supplier of many products.’
Jean Silvan Evans
City URC CforL LInk