Tendai Rupapa in MASVINGO
Museki Village in Zaka is leading the way in environmental conservation through various initiatives, including a thriving nutrition garden, fish farming and bee-keeping ventures that have been established for the benefit of villagers.
The garden is being run by a 56-member group determined to meet the nutritional needs of the community and raise income to sustain families.
Such initiatives dovetail with First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s passion to empower rural communities and ensure women contribute meaningfully to the country’s economic development.
Previously, rural communities wallowed in poverty without involving themselves in self-help projects to meet the immediate needs of their families, but Amai Mnangagwa is changing the narrative.
In the same village, at least 1 500 trees were planted around Chemvuu Dam through the Forestry Commission whereupon the First Lady, who is a hands-on person, planted a Mahogany tree, which is known as Mukamba in Shona.
Trees provide food and oxygen while also beautifying the landscape and curbing erosion.
All these developments are part of the second phase of an integrated environmental programme for schools and communities launched by Amai Mnangagwa here yesterday.
Amai Mnangagwa is the country’s environmental patron.
This second phase of the programme will be rolled out in all the provinces countrywide.
Amai Mnangagwa has a passion for the economic empowerment of the poor and, through her Angel of Hope Foundation, has helped communities to establish nutritional gardens countrywide among other income generating projects, including in previously marginalised communities in Kanyemba, Binga and Plumtree.
Yesterday, the First Lady also launched a fish farming project which focuses on breams that are conducive for Zaka’s hot weather, at a function attended by thousands of people from the surrounding communities.
The environmental patron, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, further donated plastic bins to Museki Primary School and urged pupils to make use of them to keep the school litter-free.
Addressing the gathering, the First Lady said she was grateful to unveil the second phase of a deliberate programme to preserve the environment in various areas while working closely together with children and women.
“This integrated environmental programme is critical more so in this era where there is reduced rainfall which makes us face shortages year after year. This programme is in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.”
The First Lady said it was critical for citizens to put their heads together and find ways of addressing climate change through various projects.
“Our dam is providing us enough water for our gardens, livestock and for fish farming,” she said.
She implored members of the community to preserve fruit seeds so that they may be used later in the establishment of a community orchard.
The First Lady spoke strongly against practices that result in siltation and to take measures like planting trees around dams so that the soil on the edges remains compact to prevent it from being washed into the dam.
“We should plant trees around dams and cultivate our crops wisely to avoid siltation,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa said she intends to introduce competitions to promote environmental conservation in districts throughout the country where winners will walk away with huge prizes.
Mrs Evelyn Charinda, one of the beneficiaries of the community garden, said they were working hard to produce better crops and expressed eagerness to learn more.
“There are 56 members in this project who are eager to learn more and participate in this environmental conservation. We will improve the nutrition of the community and develop ourselves through learning new things,” she said.
Mrs Charinda said she was thankful for the First Lady’s teachings encouraging women to take part in income-generating projects.
Mr Norest Denhedze praised Amai Mnangagwa for the fish project which he said will help generate employment and ensure the community realises its development goals through such income-generating projects.
“What happened here could not have been successful were it not for Amai’s efforts and words of encouragement. This is enlightening and we promise to carry forward this project,” he said. Those who had gathered walked away with an assortment of foodstuffs, courtesy of the First Lady.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke attended the function.