"We will have food": Responding to the Zimbabwe crisis

in International

A deadly cholera epidemic is spreading rapidly in Zimbabwe and vulnerable communities lacking clean water face an increased risk of seeing an outbreak. The World Health Organization says there are over 80,000 cases and already nearly 4,000 deaths.

Food shortages are also severe in many regions. Villagers unable to get water cannot grow crops and are forced to do whatever they can to find food. "Instead of vegetables and maize we now eat wild grass, ants, locusts and grasshoppers," says Emely Samu.

PWS&D is responding to the crisis situation in Zimbabwe through the Action by Churches Together (ACT) International network. Water programs are working to provide safe drinking water and teach proper sanitation to prevent further spread of disease. Many boreholes and dams have already been constructed and more are planned for the future.

In some areas, villagers may be forced to walk over 16 km to find water, but dams are making clean water much more accessible for both drinking and growing crops.

"The dam means a lot to us," says Justina Magumbo. "We have a big garden close to the dam that we can irrigate and get vegetables all year round."

While the construction of dams is ongoing in several regions, it is often difficult for people from some communities to get involved. Many have to use their time to look for food, and others are simply too hungry to work. As a temporary solution, food-for-work projects provide those involved in construction with maize, cooking oil, beans and seeds. For many, it gives them new strength to continue.

An important aspect of the program is the protection of the environment surrounding the dam. Trees are preserved to stop soil erosion and gullies are reclaimed. In the river areas that lead up to the dams, women build sand traps with stones to help prevent sand and silt from building up in the dam.

"[Soon] we will have food," says Simon Munikwa, chairman of the local dam committee. "The vegetables we grow will give us some income and pay the school fees for our children. We will have a better life and be less vulnerable."

Your prayers and support needed

You can help ensure food and clean water is available to villagers in Zimbabwe through your prayers and support. Make a donation online, mail donations directly to the office, donate through your church or call PWS&D today at 1-800-619-7301, ext. 291. Please indicate "Zimbabwe Relief" on the donation.

With files from ACT International