MASVINGO — A community-initiated water harvesting and gardening project has transformed the lives of over 200 villagers in Dumbu village in Masvingo district.
Report by Our Staff Bothered by the recurrent drought in the area, the villagers devised a way of harnessing water from a hill and rehabilitated a dam which had been destroyed by Cyclone Eline in 2000.
Twelve years down the line, the Ivhu Inhaka project has become an oasis of hope for villagers in the perennially drought-hit area.
At least 60 families have a small portion of land each, where they grow maize and vegetables.
A member of the project, Fadzai Mvurachena (39), said it was difficult in the beginning, as there was a lot of work required.
“It was worth it because I now generate adequate income to care for my family of five from the garden,” she said.
Mvurachena said she got at least US$100 from the sale of mealies per season and US$20 every month from vegetables from her garden.
“Ivhu Inhaka is the sole source of income for a number of widows, widowers and orphans we work with,” Mvurachena said.
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“It helps those like me to subsidise their husbands’ income. I do not wait for my husband to buy children’s books or to give me money for use at the grinding mill because I always have my own small savings.”
Ivhu Inhaka secretary, Muchuva Muchuva, said the project had become popular because it supplied vegetables to well-known educational institutions and businesses in Masvingo town.
“Our project is now well-known, we get customers from all over who buy our produce which includes green mealies, potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetables,” said Muchuva.
Village head, Johnson Rangwani, said the project was a model of how communities can start self-sustaining ventures without donor assistance.
In the initial stages, some villagers provided old pipes while others donated small amounts of money to buy more pipes to draw water from the dam to the garden.
Impressed by the project, a local non-governmental organisation (NGO), Aquaculture Zimbabwe Trust, in May this year donated about 22 000 fish which are now being grown in the dam.
The villagers expect to realise about US$7 000 from the sale of the fish by December this year.