Constance Dakarai (46) is a widow and a mother to four children (2 girls and 2 boys). Her husband passed away in 2011 and she has raised her children alone for the past seven years. Constance and her children live in Museve Village, ward 30 in Buhera, Manicaland. She provides for her family through farming and selling firewood.
Museve Village is located near Save River in the driest parts of ward 30 known as the ‘Dry Lands’ due to its lack of irrigation schemes and limited access to water. Buhera South District where Museve Village is located is a Rural District and is in Region 5 of Zimbabwe’s Farming Regions. Region 5 is very hot and dry and is characterised by poor rainfall. Most people in Buhera depend on farming and cattle ranching. The people of Museve Village have survived on traditional okra and newly developed leaves of baobab trees as relish for years. Many baobab trees can easily be noticed upon arrival in the village, this signifies that the area is too dry. This dryness cripples successful crop production without irrigation.
In this difficult situation, Constance struggled to raise her children. I had to walk 10-15 km with my two eldest children in search of firewood, which we would then sell at Nyanyadzi Shopping Centre which is in Chimanimani District, after we would have risked our lives crossing Save River, said Constance. The money they got usually did not meet their needs. I usually got $2 daily from the firewood business, which I used to buy relish which was usually beans or cabbage and other required goods, Constance said. Constance also has a small field but she does not get much due to poor crop which is heavily dependent on rainfall patterns. Her field is also frequently attacked by local livestock that breaks the ‘fence’ made of thorn bushes.
Batsiranai Program, a Community Based Organisation working in partnership with ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) facilitated the establishment of a Nutrition Garden in Museve Village, to promote Sustainable Livelihoods and Climate Resilience. A 0, 5 hectare garden was built. The Garden uses a submersible solar pump which is not labour intensive, and user friendly especially for women and the elderly who will use pipes to irrigate their crops instead carrying the water on their heads for long distances. The pump is also environmentally friendly because it has no pollution, the system easy to maintain and replace at community level.
A total of 78 households, the bulk of whom are women are currently supported by the garden which includes the elderly, the widowed and child-headed families. The community named the Garden ‘Kushinga’ which indicates endurance and being resilient in the face of challenges. Most women and children have benefited from the garden. Some women now have a source of income with a bundle of vegetables being sold at $0, 50. The garden has also become a platform where women get involved in the decision making where they discuss access to land in the community at the garden while some of the women are taking key decision making roles for the garden management committee: Kushinga Garden Committee has a Committee of five women and two men, with a woman being the Chairperson.
A cheerful Constance said: I no longer travel long distances to look for firewood to sell but l now sells vegetables, onions and tomatoes from my garden. I now earn $5 in a day. My burden as a single parent providing for my children has been lessened. From just looking at me people say I have gained weight and I am happy about that. It also gives me pleasure that now l can travel without having to worry about finding my garden destroyed by animals, since this Nutrition Garden is properly fenced.
Through this project Batsiranai with technical and financial support from AAZ is going to continuously encourage communities to have nutrition gardens to improve food and nutrition security and improve livelihoods.