Elita Chikwati recently in BUHERA
The Buhera community has called on responsible authorities to provide them with irrigation facilities so that they produce crops throughout the year to ensure household food security. The community also appealed to humanitarian organisations to continue with the Lean Season Assistance (LSA) programme as the area was badly affected by the El Nino-induced drought and Cyclone Idai.
Under the LSA programme, families were getting money from USAID and European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) during the lean season, which they would use to buy food.
Some invested the money and have started income-generating projects such as manufacturing mesh wire, while others used savings from the proceeds to send their children to school.
Most households said they were relying on wild fruits and one meal a day.
Mrs Omega Musariri of Mahwengwa Village in Buhera said she planted millet last season as the area is not suitable for maize production, but the drought was so intense that even the small grains could not give meaningful yields.
“This area is dry and we rely on rain-fed agriculture. We grow small grains, but during the past season, we could not get meaningful yields. The crop that we planted late was affected by Cyclone Idai and it germinated while it was still in the field and we ended up using it as poultry feeds.
“We have been getting assistance from donors. The help started in January from World Vision and in June we received our last assistance from ECHO. We were getting US$8 per individual and nine members in our family were under the programme.
“I used to buy food using the money and also used the savings to pay fees for my children.
“I also managed to construct a toilet from the proceeds. The programme helped many people, including child-headed families. We no longer had the problem of malnutrition in children as they were getting porridge,” she said.
Mrs Musariri said although households in the area had a community garden, the well they were relying on to water the vegetables was drying up.
“We now eat wild fruits — diospyros mespiliformis, also known as jackalberry or African ebony (shumha) and baobab fruit — in the morning and have sadza in the evening.
“If we had irrigation facilities, we could produce crops throughout the year. The only boreholes we have cannot sustain gardening and we are only using them for drinking water,” she said.
Another beneficiary of the LSA programme Ms Fungai Zuva of Joni Village said she received assistance from USAID and ECHO and had started an income-generating project using savings from the proceeds.
“I also bought a beast after selling my mesh wire.
“I now make mesh wire so that I can get an income and provide for my family. We now have reduced our food portions due to the drought.
“We wish the assistance could resume. The situation could also improve if we had dams, we could venture into horticulture and we could even grow maize,” she said.
Through the LSA, local retailers said their businesses had also started booming as beneficiaries were now able to buy basic commodities.
Ward Councillor Mr Wisdom Njiri said the community could also be assisted with good livestock breeds, especially small livestock.
“With irrigation, the community can venture into fruit production and horticulture and improve on their nutrition,” he said.
As part of the 1 million Euro contribution from ECHO, the World Food Programme provided food assistance to more than 60 000 people throughout the lean season in Buhera.