CCARDESA launches projects to mitigate impact of Covid-19 on food and nutrition security in Zimbabwe

The Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCADERSA), with funding from the European Union (EU) through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and technical support from Bembani Group, launched a project to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on food and nutrition security using Climate Smart Technologies in Zimbabwe in December.

The project is an extension of the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) programme which seeks to strengthen the capacity of SADC Member States to undertake regional and national adaptation and mitigation actions in response to the challenges caused by the effects of climate change.

A similar project launch was conducted in Eswatini while preparatory work was facilitated in Mozambique in November. The EU has contributed Euro 8 million to the GCCA+ project to increase the capabilities of SADC Member States to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, and to have their voices better heard in the international climate change negotiations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a humanitarian crisis, negatively impacting the food and nutrition status of millions of households worldwide. The pandemic has disrupted food systems, including production and marketing due to lockdowns imposed by countries. The escalating threat on livelihoods, food and nutrition security due to increasing cases, lockdowns and health-related restrictions calls for urgent interventions to minimise the impact to the most affected communities.

Project launch in Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe, the launch and associated activities were conducted from 1 to 4 December, 2020. The delegation arrived in Harare on 30 November, 2020, and conducted pre-launch meetings on 1 and 2 December before travelling to Rushinga, about 120km north-east of the capital Harare, for the launch on 3 December, 2020. The delegation was welcomed by the implementing partner, Grow a Tree Foundation (GTF), which arranged a series of meetings with stakeholders from different ministries and the local political leadership.

The team held its first meeting with GTF which outlined a number projects the foundation was working on. These projects include honey production, bee keeping, vegetable production, fisheries, poultry (indigenous chickens locally referred to as road runners, including installation of a solar incubator), as well as moringa, pawpaw and baobab production and processing. The required infrastructure included drilling of boreholes, installation of a solar powered drip irrigation system, fencing of horticultural gardens, installation of biogas digester, and construction of fish ponds. The foundation is also promoting the efficient use of energy using stoves.

The delegation held meetings with the Director of Climate Change Management in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry; the Director Agricultural Research and Specialist Services, the Deputy Director of Agricultural Research and Specialist Services, the Director of Crops and other senior officials in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation. Officials from both ministries showed strong support to the project and offered to provide technical support on how implementation would proceed. Finally, the delegation paid a courtesy call on the Member of Parliament responsible for the areas where the projects is going to be implemented, before proceeding to the project site.

Tree planting activities

The visit coincided with the National Tree Planting Week in Zimbabwe, hence the project delegation of Mr Barthlomew Chataika from CCARDESA and Dr Qandelihle Simelane from Bembani Group planted trees at Seke 2 High School, Tsungayi Primary School and the Africa Unity Square in Harare. Trees were also planted at the project site as a sign of the project's commitment towards mitigating against the impact of climate change. During tree planting exercises, the delegation interfaced with project partners such as African Youth Initiative on Climate Change, Solidaridad and Kadewere Foundation, including learners who were key partners of GTF towards carbon sequestration.

The project team, together with GTF founding director Kudakwashe Manyanga, participated in a live radio interview as part of the celebration of Zimbabwe's National Tree Planting Week.

Field visit and launch

The project was launched in Rushinga. The profile of beneficiaries is diverse and includes women, men and the youth who all committed themselves to ensuring that the project becomes a success.

During the lunch, the team visited a vegetable garden where the first borehole had recently been sunk to supply water to the vegetable garden. Other sites adjoining this are targeted for pawpaw, baobab and moringa production, which will be supported with water from boreholes yet to be drilled.

Community engagement

The team engaged the project beneficiaries who re-emphasised the need to invest in vegetable production, honey production, papaya, moringa and baobab production and processing. Community ownership of the project activities was indicated during the project launch. Land allocated for the project and a borehole that has already been sunk together with irrigation equipment suggest good chances of success of the project as well as sustaining the project activities beyond the lifecycle of the funded activities. The Rushinga Project is expected to be a farmer field school and lessons will be used to replicate the model to other areas in the country.