A wide range of support and other practical measures have been put in place by Government to improve the lives of millions of people and deal with problems as they arise, with, for example, five rehabilitation centres set up to treat drug and substance abuse.
So far 600 youths have gone through these centres.
Most of those who benefit from the extensive range of support measures from Government come from rural communities, and the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. They have been supported with food aid, cash transfers and assisted medical treatment, among other programmes.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that Cabinet had adopted the 2022 rural livelihoods assessment report of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee. It was presented by Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Anxious Masuka.
“On the youth, the ZimVAC Assessment highlights, among other major challenges faced, the problem of drug and substance abuse. Government has put in place an inter-ministerial committee on substance abuse chaired by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to address substance abuse problems,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“Government has also set up five centres for the rehabilitation of youths affected by substance abuse, with a total of 600 substance abusers having gone through the centres.”
A major thrust of the Government programmes was to meet employment challenges.
“To address employment challenges, Government is implementing job creation initiatives, including the provision of skills and entrepreneurship training for income generation projects by vocational training centres and through integrated skills outreach programmes.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said the rural livelihoods assessment report collected and analysed information in: education, social protection, agriculture production, livestock, irrigation infrastructure, household income, child nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, loans, household consumption patterns, food security, youth, development issues, and shocks and challenges.
The last rainfall season started late in most parts of the country, and was characterised by poor rainfall distribution in terms of both space and time across Zimbabwe.
Said Minister Mutsvangwa: “The agro-based nature of Zimbabwe’s rural livelihoods, coupled with climate-related shocks, pre-disposes the country’s rural households to food availability, access and stability challenges. The rainfall season also affected livelihoods strategies which include seasonal on-farm labour, livestock sales, vegetable production and sales, harvesting, and the sale and consumption of wild produce.”
Some of the measures noted by the report initiated by Government to uplift people’s livelihoods include the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, support for the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups through food aid and food subsidies, harmonised cash transfers, assisted medical treatment orders, and the removal of restrictions on food imports, such as removal of import duty on maize, wheat and cooking oil, among other basic commodities, while the Pfumvudza/Intwasa Programme assisted farmers with agricultural inputs.
There was also the continuing emergency road rehabilitation programme from February last year, aimed at restoring and then improving road infrastructure.
“In education, 83,8 percent of school-going children were in school compared to the 77 percent recorded in 2021. Government assisted 560 000 learners through the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), and reiterates its standing policy that no learner should be turned away for non-payment of school fees.
“Pertaining to early marriages, Government will robustly monitor the legislation under the Marriages Act, while incorporating the local leadership in educational, publicity and awareness programmes in communities,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Some of the highlights of rural assessment findings include water and sanitation provision, where 78 percent of communities had access to improved water sources.”
While extreme poverty is being pushed back, the number of rural households eating acceptable diets is still only 35 percent, a vast improvement but showing what needs to be done.
“The household food security situation improved, with the proportion of households having borderline diets having decreased while households having poor food consumption increased to 36 percent. The proportion of households in the acceptable category also increased from 29 percent in 2021 to 35 percent in 2022.
“Government has instituted programmes to address the country’s dietary situation, notably the agriculture and food systems strategy, which has, as one of its components, the establishment of a village and agribusiness hub garden,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
On irrigation development, the assessment revealed that of the 394 irrigation schemes in the sampled districts, 51 percent were fully functional, with 28 percent partly functional and 21 percent not functional. So Government is implementing programmes to rehabilitate irrigation schemes.
Some of the plans include the national accelerated rehabilitation and development programme targeting the rehabilitation and development of at least 200 hectares in every district every year for 10 years.
To date, 216 000 hectares including plantations are under irrigation of which 116 000 hectares are for cropping. Government intends to increase the hectarage for cropping from 116 000 hectares to 350 000 hectares, said Minister Mutsvangwa.