In Zimbabwe, Asset Creation Activities Bring Hope

WFP's Food for Asset and Productive Asset Creation programmes are strengthening communities’ resilience to climactic shocks by rehabilitating 114 dams across the country

It’s half past five on a cool summer morning in Mwenezi, Zimbabwe and Zvodai Ndambakuwa, aged 23, is sitting impatiently on the 20-litre container she uses to haul water. Every five minutes, she glances down at the one-metre deep well, hoping the water level will be high enough for her to haul it. She has been at the well since 4 o’clock in the morning.

“Ever since I was born, water has been a problem in this area. Now I’m married, have two kids, and we are still facing the same problem,” says Ndambakuwa. “Everyone’s hopes are now pinned on the weir dam the World Food Programme is building. It will bring life to not only my family and our livestock, but to the six villages that surround us.”

The World Food Programme (WFP) is promoting the creation and rehabilitation of small dams including weir dams in arid parts of the country. The dams are part of WFP’s Food for Asset programme aimed at strengthening communities’ resilience to climactic shocks. Funded under a joint initiative by the United States and Japan, 114 dams are being created or rehabilitated across 10 districts in 2015.

“Japan’s contribution not only helps WFP meet people’s immediate food needs but also helps provide the most vulnerable with a means to cope with shocks, such as drought,” says WFP Country Director of Zimbabwe Eddie Rowe. “Building resilience is the key to achieving sustainable development and creating a future free from hunger.”

In the districts of Zvishavane and Mwenezi, some 83,000 people are likely to face hunger during the height of the 2015/16 lean season. WFP established its Productive Asset Creation programme to help vulnerable communities move away from dependency on food assistance by creating assets that increase their resilience to future food security shocks. The Tsvimborume dam, for example, located 150 kilometres from Zimbabwe’s oldest town, Masvingo, and created under WFP’s Productive Asset Creation programme, will benefit more than 2,000 people and some 8,000 livestock.

Zvishavane and Mwenezi are among a number of districts in southern Zimbabwe that have suffered as a result of consecutive bad harvests caused by poor rains during the growing season. It is estimated that at least 1.5 million people across the country will be food insecure during the height of the lean season after a 50 percent decrease in crop production this year.

The construction of the weir dam was implemented by WFP, in partnership with the Mwenezi Development Training Centre and with support from the Government of Japan. Able-bodied, food-insecure people receive food rations to meet their immediate needs while they work on the project. Work at the construction site resumed early this year after it went on hold in 2013.