Lynn Munjanja recently in Mwenezi
Access to water has been a challenge to the Muzezegwa community in Mwenezi especially to women and youth who have the role of looking for the resource.
Most people in Muzezegwa depended on rain-fed agriculture which is highly vulnerable to both short-term dry spells and long-term droughts.
The community was not guaranteed of food security especially during low rainfall seasons.
Muzezegwa is located between ward two and ward three in Mwenezi District.
The community was also through the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund Projects.
ZRBF works with by Government through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) the European Union (EU) and the Embassy of Sweden.
Touched by the community’s expressed commitment to end the chronic water shortages and realising that it would take the locals over five years to finish the construction of the small dam, ZRBF intervened with the required cement, reinforcements, and the expertise.
The construction was done under cash for asset arrangement where recipients work and get paid.
The Muzezegwa Dam which was recently constructed has brought relief and joy to most households who now can venture into irrigation and also expand livestock production.
The dam has also helped the community to strengthen resilience in the face of shocks and stresses, enabling the people to contribute to economic growth of the country.
Muzezegwa Dam was a community initiated idea to construct a weir and was mainly out of the people’s need to save livestock from long distances to watering points and the need to practice dry season vegetable production for improved nutrition.
The dam was completed within eight months and is benefiting an average of 465 households from seven villages and a minimum of 1 540 cattle.
The improved access to water helped community members on their cattle fattening project which is mainly targeted at improving the weight of livestock for sale.
During a tour at Muzezegwa Dam in Chinyani Village, Mwenezi, yesterday, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said so far the progress made by Government, its partners and the community was impressive and showed that Zimbabweans were dedicated when they work in unity.
“We have a community that has taken the initiative to change lives and with the little work they did, it has gone a long way because Government and its partners have come on board. This is now an effort of all Zimbabweans coming together to support the local community.
“The most important thing is that communities took these projects seriously which is important and I cannot emphasize more than that. We are happy that women and also the youth have participated.
“A couple of years ago there was nothing like this but we are here now. This is what Vision 2030 entails,” he said.
Members of the Chinyani Village, in Mwenezi also expressed their gratitude towards the dam project which they said had brought relief because they had been facing water challenges for a long time.
Farmer, Mr Albert Chimange said he has a nearby source of water for his crops.
“I am happy because before this dam was built we used to struggle, especially when the rainfall season was bad. It automatically meant the failure of our crops.
“The situation has improved now as we can now utilise the dam for irrigation. Even my garden is now thriving. This means I have a source of income as I am getting money from selling the produce, “he said.
Ms Regedzai Mukashi said as a housewife she was happy about the dam because her chores had been made easier.
“ I no longer face challenges when I want to do laundry. I can now easily access water for my garden projects as well.
“ Sometimes I come for fishing so that I get relish for the family hence I am so happy about this project, “ she said.
Mrs Yeukai Chimbedza who was also empowered by the ZRBF through training on detergent manufacturing said she had diversified.
“I am now into detergent making business and this means that I can now help my husband to feed the family.
“ Business has been booming and we thank God for this dam because if it was not for that I would not be in this business. We used to walk long distances just to fetch water,” she said.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Zimbabwe Ms Mia Seppo said they were happy with the progress that they had witnessed on the projects.
“It has been really great to see communities taking initiatives and the partners standing behind and supporting them hence these projects have become successful.
“The fact that women now have their own projects and are no longer asking for money from their husbands is a great relief. This reduces violence in the families. The potential of agriculture in Zimbabwe has also been witnessed.
“Many of these projects have the potential to be taken and implemented elsewhere because we have seen how the community has greatly benefited,” she said.
Some members of the community have engaged in cattle fattening.
This has seen the livestock trekking distance reduced to about two to five kilometres from 10-15km.
The ZRBF seeks to improve adaptive, absorptive and transformation capacities of rural communities while improving early warning mechanisms and assisting Government in evidence generation to inform policy decisions.