Fungai Lupande, Mashonaland Central Bureau
A keyhole garden, home-made tip-tap and a clay-moulded cooking stove have become a hit and must-have assets for every household in Mt Darwin as the community embraces Government initiatives to improve their nutritional requirements.
Food and nutrition multi-sectoral ward communities, which are spearheading the initiatives, are recording some successes as the malnutrition rate has decreased from a high of 35,2 percent to 27,1 percent.
The Food and Nutrition Council toured Wards 12 and 24 in Mt Darwin on Tuesday to assess progress in their multi-sectoral approach in ending malnutrition and stunting in the district.
Mt Darwin is one of the districts in Zimbabwe that are facing acute water shortages due to high temperatures and low rainfall.
The keyhole garden, which started in 2016, has become a must-have for homesteads in Mt Darwin as it provides families with fresh vegetables that are rich in micro-nutrients like zinc, iron and calcium.
Matope Clinic in Ward 12 has three demonstration gardens where people, especially women, are taught how to set up similar gardens in their homes.
Food and nutrition ward secretary Mrs Ruth Kahiya said the garden was economic in terms of water usage and the labour.
“We encourage people to set up the garden near the kitchen and close to places where they wash their dishes,” she said.
“We teach mothers about nutrients in different fruits and their benefit to children. We took the initiative to all schools in the ward and only Chatumbama Primary School is yet to set up a garden. We encourage people to plant beetroot, spinach, butternuts, pepper and lettuce.”
Built with bricks up to waist level, the garden is round shaped with a hole in the middle.
At the bottom there are bones and metals, sand, maize stalks, green branches and ashes, manure and rich top soil.
The middle hole has stones and manure to filter dirty water. The technology was copied from Mutasa District in Mutare.
Mrs Wadzanai Matangira from Bveke Village in the Nyombwe area in Ward 24 said when she was taught about the garden, she thought it was not worth the trouble, but it has become the pride of her home.
“We never run out of fresh vegetables,” she said.
Bveke Clinic has a demonstration garden where patients are taught to have a tip-tap, known as “chigubhu gear”, for washing hands after using the toilet.
The major milestone was penetrating the Marange apostolic sect, which was previously not keen on seeking medical attention and embracing hygienic practices.
“We now hold health competitions in their homes,” said Ms Oripah Manangazira, a primary health caregiver. “When I started working at this clinic in 2010, we received 14 to 20 diarrhoea cases per week.
“Since setting up food and nutrition committees the number has dropped to one or two cases per week. No cases of cholera have been reported.”
A care group model has helped in disseminating information in the community.
Food and nutrition ward chairperson Mr Adam Mapurisa said they visited all 23 villages in the ward to identify problems and come up with a plan inclusive of all sectors.
He said they encouraged people to use clay-moulded stoves and the tsotso stove, which both require less firewood.