Kunzwana: Helping women in farming communities

A group of women sits by the roadside with small dishes full of tomatoes and vegetables.

REPORT BY KUDZAI CHIMHANGWA

They are braving the sweltering heat, patiently waiting for customers in Macheke, about 100km east of Harare. They occasionally wave their dishes at passing motorists.

It is their endurance and tenacity that enables them to provide food for their families.

For some of them, it has paid off.

“I have actually opened a tuckshop and am presently building a lavatory and another house in my compound,” said Antorio Nyemba. “I can also buy inputs to do my farming and by next year I will have bought quite a number of cows.”

Nyemba is one of the many beneficiaries of Kunzwana Women’s Association, a non-governmental organisation that provides practical survival skills to unemployed women in farming and resettlement community.

Naomi Mhlanga, another beneficiary, said she attended sewing, garment-making and gardening courses.

As a result, she no longer depends on government’s basic education assistance module (Beam) targeted at underprivileged children, to send her kids to school.

“Even though I didn’t do so well at school, I now do my planning on how best to survive because I’m making good money from this market gardening project,” she said.

Members of the association are trained in sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and garden management as well as how to lay and maintain drip pipes.

Kunzwana director Emmie Wade said the association had 5 000 members dotted around the country’s former farming areas.

“The major problem that we encounter is that of illiteracy since most of the rural women have not progressed much in terms of formal education,” Wade said. “We have had to be very creative in the ways that we teach them so that they understand the basic concepts.”

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