HARARE – The British government through the Department of International Development (DFID) has extended a 21,5 million pound grant to Zimbabwe to capacitate the country’s most vulnerable districts.
The grant which is under Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) will stretch to 2021 and seeks to improve the well-being of vulnerable rural communities through programmes that cushion them against shocks and stress brought about by natural disasters.
DFID’s grant comes as the country is grappling with a poor rainy season that has seen nearly 30 percent of the crop being written-off due to prolonged dry spells.
“Climate change is already evident here. This year we have been experiencing hotter days and higher frequency of dry spells during the rainy season.
“Without adapting, poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition and environmental degradation will continue to be serious challenges in Zimbabwe- particularly in rural areas.
“This will also add to the existing difficulties of the estimated one million people who are currently chronically food insecure,” DFID head Annabel Gerry said.
She added that the break between the rains has reminded people of the huge challenge ahead where it was more important to bring the expertise rather than money into the resilience programs.
United Nations resident coordinator Bishow Parajuli said DFID’s contribution comes at a time when people are coming to grips with climate change which is also affecting Zimbabwe.
He said resilience building is holistic as it not only targets agriculture but also education and health of families.
“Through the ZRBF some 830 000 people are targeted with climate smart agriculture, nutrition and livelihoods and access to finance and value chain development.
“We have to be patient with communities to be self-reliant and standalone totally but from the evidence received it is achievable.”
Zimbabwe has for the last 15 years, experienced social and economic crises due to the effects of climate change and extreme weather conditions.
The effects of the changing and unpredictable weather patterns coupled with poor economic development have led to high levels of poverty among the rural population.
According to government’s Poverty Income Consumption and Expenditure survey report, the national poverty rate stands at 62,6 percent.
The rural poverty rate is at 76 percent, with 30,4 percent living in extreme poverty resulting in 33 percent of children under 5 having stunted growth.