Chombwe piped water scheme: Game changer as Chivi women battle the environment

23 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
Chombwe piped water scheme: Game changer as Chivi women battle the environment

The Herald

Phyllis Kachere

Deputy News Editor Convergence

Nestled between the Runde and the perennial Tugwi rivers with a population of 172 979, Chivi district has for long bore the brunt of climate change characterised by droughts, heavy rains that result in flooding; washing away crops. 

The sandy granitic rock-derived soils mostly found in the district makes crop farming an almost impossible venture. 

Chivi District Medical Officer Dr Onward Tendaupenyu told The Herald in an interview that the district had high stunting levels; 26.9 percent according to 2018 National Nutrition Survey. 

The World Health Organisation describes stunting as the “impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median”. 

“Generally, malnutrition cases are on the rise since we are now in the lean hunger period. We did not receive a bumper harvest for the 2021/22 farming season. The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) report of 2022 shows that 48 percent of the households will be food insecure during the peak lean hunger period. 

“Since the beginning of the year, we have recorded 106 cases of severe acute malnutrition in children under five years across the Chivi District,” he said. 

He said the district had recorded low cases of malnutrition admissions for pregnant and lactating women. 

“Since the beginning of the year, we have recorded only six cases of severe acute malnutrition. All of these admissions were from people above five years.” 

Dr Tendaupenyu said the rehabilitation of the Chombwe Piped Water Scheme that had collapsed in the 90s was set to change the outlook of the district. 

“Chombwe Piped Water Scheme is set to benefit the district, particularly women and children who in most cases are likely candidates of severe acute malnutrition and stunted growth. 

 “The water scheme catchment is Chivi District Hospital and Mhandamabwe, which recorded only one case of severe acute malnutrition admission this year,” he said. 

Like Dr Tendaupenyu, the Chivi district development coordinator Mr Innocent Matingwina believes all these negatives will soon be a thing of the past following the revival of the Chombwe Piped Water Scheme. 

“At the moment, Chombwe piped water scheme is servicing three wards – 6, 7 and 8 – with an estimated population of 7106 disaggregated as: male 3361 and female 3745.  

“Our district will soon be the green belt of Masvingo, bringing further benefits to the population. Issues of food insecurity and poverty will soon be eradicated. Already, communities have begun mobilising each other for irrigation schemes, citrus and other fruits estate plantations,” said Mr Matingwina. 

He said the aim was to have every piped water at every household in the three wards.  

Lydia Muzondo (left) and Moreblessing Dube (with baby Blessing on her back) watering their maize beds in the Pfumvudza Chombwe Pipeline demonstration plot in Chivi district

Mrs Memory Gudhe (48) of Mhikuro Village in Ward 7, who runs a thriving a nutrition garden at her homestead said the revival of the Chombwe Piped Water Scheme had brought relief to communities in wards 6, 7 and 8, who are the major beneficiaries. 

“I now run a thriving nutrition garden at my homestead and I sell some of my produce, leaving me with a source of income. Since the collapse of the scheme in the 90s, and the recurrent droughts that have bedevilled Chivi, we have seen a spike in food insecurity at household level. Where we would rely on rain-fed agriculture, now we have an option to join existing irrigation schemes or new ones that are coming out now,” said Mrs Gudhe. 

She said the availability of water has also been a timely intervention to primary schools like as Vuravhi, Jena, Denga and others.  

“Our livestock has benefited immensely from the piped water. Previously, livestock would take in muddy waters in the few remaining swampy areas or had to trek 6km to Tugwi River for watering,” she said. 

Ms Agrina Chimwonzo (55) who is a participant in the Pfumvudza/Intwasa demonstration plot said for long, no meaningful projects were being implemented to mitigate climate change effects. 

“Now, we are practicing conservation agriculture through the Pfumvudza training. Some villagers in our communities have now grouped to start reforestation through planting acres of fruit trees.  

“This will not only help conserve the soil, but will also bring income and ensure poverty does not haunt our families. I have joined a group where we have started poultry rearing. Life will never be the same again for our community,” said Ms Chimwonzo. 

Like Mrs Gudhe, Ms Chimwonzo said she was grateful to the Second Republic for availing funds to rehabilitate the Chombwe Piped Water Scheme. 

Ms Rami Magwati (48) of Muguti Village said she used to walk 8km to and fro in search of water or pay others to supply her with water at her homestead. 

“Water is life. Without it, life becomes miserable. Our role as mothers is fulfilled when we have time to nurture our children. But the absence of water was taking that role away as we spent more time in search of water. With the rehabilitation of Chombwe, we have more time for our families, have are now food secure and our livestock has clean water,” said Ms Magwati. 

   Mr Matingwina said so much has changed positively in the district with regards to mitigating climate change with the hope that Tugwi-Mukosi Dam will also play its part by providing irrigation water in Chivi. 

“Once the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam waters become available for irrigation schemes in our district, we would have made a positive in this semi-arid that has previously been condemned to poverty and hunger. We are not far from realising this dream. President Mnangagwa is determined for us to achieve this, so are we,” he said.    

*This story was funded by the Women In News SIRI Real Grant Project*  

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