By Our Correspondent
Communities in Gwanda got a major boost after a local non-governmental organisation Hand in Hand Zimbabwe (HiH Zim) facilitated the installation of solar-powered boreholes.
The project running under the Green Enterprise Project is meant to transform livelihoods of rural people across the country.
HiH Zim has installed four solar-powered boreholes at four community gardens in the district, a development that has seen farmers in the area increasing crop production.
Gwanda, which falls within agro-ecological Region V and receives annual average rainfall of 477mm, has a record of many cases of crop failure.
The district has not experienced above normal rainfall over the past 10 years and meaningful crop production is only under irrigation.
The installation of the solar boreholes has, however, brought relief to villagers, many who struggled to sustain their crops as they had to travel long distances to fetch water.
As a result of HiH Zim’s intervention, most gardens in the area are thriving with an array of crops such as butternut, potatoes, tomatoes, beans and chomolia, as well as nursery trees.
HiH Zim CEO Felix Tete said the provision of the solar-powered boreholes were part of the organisation’s strategy to promote the use of green energy in the district, while at the same time creating jobs and building socio-economically resilient communities.
Sympathy Ngulube (34) from Sinalidau Garden in Ward 20, praised HiH Zim for helping to develop her impoverished community in the past three years.
“The business trainings and provision of technical support from Hand in Hand Zimbabwe has opened our minds,” Ngulube, a mother of four told Southern Eye on Sunday.
“We have been taught a lot and on top of that the water woes that we were facing are now a thing of the past because we can easily water our crops.
“In the past our gardening projects were not doing so well because we would get tired of walking long distances to fetch water, but the installation of the solar-powered boreholes have eased our burden. As a group we are looking forward to our first harvesting season in the coming few months.”
Ngulube indicated that her group will soon be selling their butternut crop to local markets in the district.
“Our plan is to buy cattle and goats as a form of investments from the proceeds of our crops,” she said.
Tsamikan Sebata, from Progressive Garden in Ward 14, said she had been living in abject poverty for years as a result of poor harvests induced by drought in the district, but the solar-powered boreholes have come as a relief.
She said although the 45-member group recently started selling their produce, they are looking forward to earning a sustainable income from the sales.
“The Green Enterprise Project is proving to be helpful in the district as it has revamped production in our garden,” she said.
“In addition, the project has also empowered our youth, and families as well as our community in terms of job creation and building socio-economic resilience.”
The project created 490 green jobs and 34 green enterprises in the past year and there are good prospects for growth this year.
Sebata said the group is reinvesting back into the garden through buying seedlings and they are all optimistic that the project would be self-sustaining in the near future.
“This project is not only helping us with new income streams for our families, but is also opening our eyes to various opportunities,” Sebata, the mother of three said.
Since their garden has a provision of tree nurseries, Sebata said the group sells tree seedlings at $15 each.
About 63 types of fruit trees that include mango, guava, lemons and pawpaw have been planted in the garden.
The group members are also looking forward to selling their butternut and tomatoes, which will be ready for harvest soon.
The market for their produce is in Gwanda town and surrounding communities.
Phakamani and Sengezane gardens in Ward 14, where HiH Zim also installed solar-powered water boreholes, are realising high yields in their butternut crop production, which they plan to sell beginning of March.
Loreen Mpondo (62) said she was confident the proceeds from the garden would go a long way in improving their lives.
Since its inception more than 15 months ago, the Green Enterprise Project has established three apiaries, five tree nurseries, and five nutritional gardens with a provision of fodder for cattle and goat fattening
The project is one of the economically and environmentally viable projects that was adopted by HiH Zim as a pilot venture in Gwanda.
The project was incepted in September 2018 and is expected to run until August 2021. It seeks to achieve improved sustainable economic activities and strengthen resilience to climate change for the resource-constrained communities – particularly women and young people.
This goal will be achieved through climate-smart agriculture (irrigated horticulture) and beekeeping.
These interventions are part and parcel of climate change adaptive strategies. By its very nature the project targets to benefit 80% women and 20% men in Ward 6,7,14 and 20 in Gwanda.
HiH Zim is a non-profit organisation that helps resource limited and marginalised people in rural communities, particularly women and youth, to create better livelihoods for themselves and their families through its flagship series, the Jobs Creation Programme (JCP), which encompasses a self-help approach that is premised on a four-pillar model involving social mobilisation into self-help groups, training in entrepreneurship and economic development, facilitating access to microloans and facilitating market linkages and value addition.
Apart from the JCP, the organisation has over the past four years incepted various projects including the Motivated and Entrepreneurial Youth Project, Community Upliftment Programme, Green Enterprises Project and Jobs for Zimbabwe Project, Market Linkages Project and the Daughters of Africa Project.
The organisation was registered as a non-profit trust in Zimbabwe in July 2015 and is presently supporting communities in seven districts namely Bulilima, Chikomba, Chirumanzu, Gwanda, Lupane, Nkayi and Shurugwi.