Masvingo has witnessed unprecedented development in the social infrastructure sphere over the past two years, thanks to the devolution concept introduced by the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa with major inroads being made in health, education, infrastructure and water sanitation.
The province last year received $30 million in devolution funds, which was channelled through local authorities in both urban and rural areas precipitating large-scale development. In the area of water and sanitation, more than 60 boreholes have been drilled across the province with over 500 having been rehabilitated by the District Development Fund.
This has greatly improved access to water particularly in extremely arid districts like Chivi, Mwenezi and Chiredzi.
Piped water schemes have also financed using devolution funding at Chiguhune Primary School and Bhasera Clinic and health service centre in Gutu.
In Chivi, the main beneficiary was the Chombwe irrigation scheme that was revived and will benefit more than 10 000 rural households, business centres, schools and clinics across Chivi North.
Chivi Rural District council chair Councillor Godfrey Mukungunugwa said the scheme, which collapsed at the turn of the millennium, received $4 million under devolution and is now back on stream, bringing smiles to the faces of the rural folk.
“We have installed a new pump and connected electricity to bring this scheme back on track after injecting funds we received from central Government under devolution,” said Clr Mukungunugwa.
“Devolution has really made a positive impact here because this scheme had been mothballed for nearly 20 years. The entire belt from Chombwe, west of Mashava right up to Chivi will be characterised by communities with access to piped water for both domestic use, gardening and livestock. This is indeed a dream come true.”
Clr Mukungunugwa hailed devolution saying it afforded lower tier communities to have a say in the implementation of priority projects.
“Chombwe project was the buzzword here and almost everyone in northern Chivi wanted its revival because water was a challenge,” he said. The Provincial Development Co-ordinator Mr Fungai Mbetsa said there has been vast changes both quantitatively and qualitatively in the education sphere across Masvingo.
“In terms of quantity we now have more schools that are enrolling more students especially in new resettlement areas and the bulk of these schools were built using devolution funds. Qualitatively there has also been a marked change because more schools now have libraries and laboratories that were built using devolution funding,” said Mr Mbetsa.
In some cases even former farm houses in resettlement areas were being converted into classrooms and offices thanks to the financial impetus from devolution.
“Learners are walking shorter distances to and from schools in most areas in our province after the advent of new schools particularly in rural areas,” said Mr Mbetsa.
In Masvingo urban, council was also implementing a stalled sewer and water trunk line project using part of the funds.
The project will bring relief to over 30 000 residents in the new suburb of Victoria Ranch and Runyararo West who had hitherto endure the absence of running water and depending on ecological sanitation toilets.
This situation sparked fears of disease outbreaks, but now the situation is on the verge of changing with the water and sewer project now underway.
In the health sector, the province is in the process of constructing clinics such as Makwirivindi, Zoma in Gutu, Murinye in Masvingo district.
Mataruse and Nerupiri clinics in Gutu, Mashenjere and Chisase in Masvingo now have modern and bigger waiting mothers’ shelter thanks to devolution funding.
Other health facilities such as Matizha in Gutu and Mashenjere are undergoing expansion to have maternity wings and doctors’ consultation rooms in a big boost for health delivery.
The improvements in the area of health will stem high infant mortality rate especially during childbirth in rural areas and also death of pregnant mothers owing to long distances that need to be travelled to access health facilities manned by specialist health personnel.
Mr Mbetsa said the gains engendered by devolution funding were evident on the ground saying Masvingo’s social infrastructural face had undergone tremendous metamorphosis.
According to him the ongoing changes had pivoted the province on course to meeting the target for Zimbabwe to become an upper middle income economy by 2030.