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Meeting the women champions during emergencies

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 17:02

In a usual village in Zimbabwe, the secretary of the village is typically a man due to a society dominated by patriarchal norms. They generally appoint one who can read and write so that they are able to capture minutes during the village development meetings. Lucia Satambara (24), of Samakande Village, Avilla Ward 2, Nyanga District, Manicaland Province has broken the odds in her community. She is one in a thousand to be a secretary in one of Zimbabwe’s lowest local governance structures.

I have been the village secretary for the past five months. I am excited, said the young woman who is married and mother to two children.

Lucia’s village is home to about 380 households with an estimated population of 1900 people. A secretary reports to the village head, who in most situations in Zimbabwe is a man.

I sometimes act as a messenger for the village head. I sometimes receive phone calls from the ward councillor and I relay the message to the village head who advises me what I should do next, says Lucia.

In older times before the advent of mobile phones, Lucia would have received the message from the councillor through other means such as one has to travel long distances to relay messages or through letters which delayed implementation of development programmes. She is happy she has a private mobile phone which she uses both for personal matters and for her community work, she voluntarily implements with a passion.

Lucia said part of the information she has received lately from the councillor was concerning the selection of people to be assisted under a programme called Lean Season Assistance (LSA) being implemented by ActionAid Zimbabwe in Nyanga in with support from the World Food Programme.

Under the LSA, ActionAid has been providing cash and food items to food insecure households affected by drought in four wards of Nyanga from December 2018. The programme, which is reaching out to 4148 households and approximately 19943 people, will end in March 2019.

In the LSA programme I have been responsible for mobilising community members and calling them to meetings.  I usually call people to meetings through the traditional means of beating a drum while standing on land that is of higher ground so that more people will hear me, Lucia said.

The young woman who said she was selected to be a village secretary due to her reading, writing and good interpersonal skills, said it was worrying that young people like her were almost equalling the elderly who were to be assisted under the programme. She said this during the registration of the people to be assisted under the LSA programme in December 2018.

I alway encourage my fellow youths to engage in income generating activities. From the money they will receive under the programme, they should buy food and other items for selling so that they do not continue to ask for assistance all the time, said Lucia.

Under the LSA programme ActionAid is providing US$9 per person in a family selected to be assisted. Children found to be malnourished are receiving 6kg of con soya blend porridge per month.

Over and above direct support programmes, ActionAid in partnership with various government departments is training people assisted on complementary activities such as an income generating projects, taking farming as a business, nutrition building in communities, livestock management and water and sanitation.  The complementary programmes are aimed at promoting sustainable programmes and building resilience within communities.

Lucia is thrilled that the LSA progamme is not only giving direct assistance to communities but is also assisting her fellow young ones to run income generating programmes so that they are not perpetual beggars.

I am a smallholder farmer. I usually supplement my family earnings with buying and selling second hand clothes and this is handy at a time when we face droughts in my area, said the determined young woman.