Agriculture Business Climate Community Development Science and Technology

FAO, WFP programmes improving food security in drought-prone Masvingo Province


By Byron Mutingwende


United Nations agencies of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme are implementing projects to ensure food security in communities in the drought-prone Masvingo Province.

WFP Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) Project

Courtesy of a United Nations in Zimbabwe organised media tour, this publication visited the  Chebvute area located in Tadzembwa Village, Ward 17 Masvingo Rural District. The area lies in Natural Region 4 and experiences erratic rainfall inadequate for any meaningful agricultural production. The area has for a long time been targeted for food assistance by Government and humanitarian organisations, working to avert chronic hunger.


It was noted that the first community attempt to construct the Chebvute weir was  in the year 2000. The attempt was led by the then headmaster of Mapakomhere Secondary school. Proposals were written to Masvingo Rural District Council and a private Engineer pegged the dam site. For 17 years, no other efforts or funds were channelled towards the project. A group of 28 community members constructed a 0.2Ha garden less than 5 meters from the current weir site and started gardening activities as a cooperative. The cooperative is still functional but all the 28 community members have been incorporated into the WFP Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) project.

“Because of a Community Based Participatory Planning (CBPP) process, the community prioritised such an asset, and WFP supplied funds and NFIs for the construction of a 4,5m high masonry weir completed in November 2017. The project also established a 2Ha garden, orchard, tree nurseries, indigenous poultry, pigeons, apiculture and 2 x 1000 m2 fish ponds. In 2018 the project was enhanced by upgrading of the water supply system, catchment protection works and 2.3km access road creation. A total of 48 villages participated in the 2017 and 2018 WFP Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) project.  Rainfall in February 2018 filled the weir for the first time and the community started working in the garden. A borehole was also constructed providing safe access to water 213 people from 42 households and to the students from Mapakomhere Secondary and Tadzembwa Primary schools,” said Eng Julius Swadi, the Chairperson of the Chebvute Food Assistance Food for Asset project.
R4  Rural  Resilience Initiative
Chebvute  is  the  first ward  where  the  R4 Rural  Resilience  Approach  (R4)  was  rolled  out in  2018. The  R4 Rural  Resilience Initiative is an integrated  approach  that  brings  together  different layers  of risk management activities, such as asset creation,  promotion  of savings  and access  to  credit, and  weather index  insurance. Outside  Zimbabwe,  the  programme  is  present across  5 other countries  (Ethiopia, Se Kenya,  Malawi,  Zambia),  benefiting  300,000 people. In  Zimbabwe,  R4 aims  at reaching  50,000  people  by 2021,  in  Masvingo  and  Ru Districts.
Besides  the  four risk management activities,  in  Zimbabwe  R4 also  supports  farmers ’ access  to  markets,  linking  them to  WFP’s  Purchase  for Progress  (P4P)  programme,  as well  as introducing  climate  services  to  improve  farmers’ decision making in the context of climate change and  erratic  rainfall patterns.
Chebvute Dam Benefits
Swadi said the  new  weir holds  enough  water to  last from one  rainy season  to  the next;  whereas  the  old  only lasted  through  July. Currently 3050  beneficiaries,  with  an  estimated  total  of  670 cattle  as well  as goats,  sheep  and donkeys,  are  benefiting  from the  weir. The  distance  travelled  by livestock to  watering  point  is  now  significantly reduced. Provision  of adequate  drinking  water will  alleviate drought induced livestock diseases and deaths,  maintain  the  livestock in  generally good  condition  and  prevent  disposal of livestock at very low  prices and  unfair  trading  terms.
Fish Farming
The  fish  ponds  were  stocked  with  12,000 fish  in  January 2018. The  first harvest was  done  in  November 2018 in  which  a total  of 123kg  of fish were  harvested. In  2019  the  beneficiaries  managed  to  stock additional 10,000 fingerlings.
Nutrition  Garden  Benefits
93 garden  beneficiaries  are  benefiting  directly from the  1.1 Ha garden,  cultivating  a variety of crops  (cabbage,  sugar beans, rape,  onions,  carrots,  sweet potatoes)  on  about  1 hectare.
0.3 Ha orchard  was  planted  with  fruit trees  such  as mangoes,  oranges,  naartjies,  avocadoes  for improved  nutrition  and  dietary diversity. The  beneficiaries  have  just  sold  100 chickens  which  had  reached  6 weeks.  The  garden  beneficiaries  harvested  0.4ha of sugar beans. They have also  planted  0.3  ha of sweet  potatoes  and  they planted  2208  tomato  plants.  The  asset beneficiaries  were  trained  on  fruit production and  encouraged  to  grow  indigenous  and  exotic  fruit trees  at their  homesteads. They were  also  trained  on  compost making  and  fertility trenches.
The  garden  beneficiaries  were  trained  by Agritex  on  how  to  draft  a constitution  and  how  to  enforce  it. The  constitution  went through  all the  by-laws  processes  and  is  now  in  full  enforcement.
The  garden  will  also  enable  the  community to  graduate  from being  vulnerable  to  shocks  to  being  resilient through  crop  and  veg production  for both  consumption  and  sale.

FAO implemented Smallholder Irrigation Support Programme (SIP)

A Synopsis of Stanmore B Irrigation Scheme, Masvingo District, Masvingo Province

Stanmore B Irrigation Scheme is located in Masvingo District of Masvingo Province, 30km East of Masvingo City. The smallholder farmer-managed irrigation scheme lies in agro-ecological region IV characterised by very low and erratic rainfall. The semi portable irrigation system pumping plant and the infield infrastructure were in a state of disrepair and was not operating in 2014. The scheme applied for support under the FAO implemented Smallholder Irrigation Support Programme (SIP) and was selected as one of the 34 schemes to be rehabilitated across Masvingo, Manicaland and Matabeleland South provinces.Feasibility assessments were carried out and they informed the design of the irrigation system.

The FAO-Smallholder Irrigation Programme led to the construction of a pump house and installation of pumping unit at Stanmore B. FAO also installed a new pipeline. It repaired and replaced leaking pipes, hydrants, gate valves and hoses. The UN agency installed a perimeter fence, drilled and equipped one boreholes for portable water, built three double squat hole toilets and constructed a scheme shed at a cost of US$5 620.

FAO carried out a number of capacity building initiatives for the farmers at Stanmore B Irrigation Scheme. There was a Training of Trainers programme for the Agritex Extension Worker and Supervisor on Farming as a Business (FaaB), Agronomy, Good Scheme Governance and Operation and Maintenance of the irrigation system.

It also facilitated the training of farmers and the Irrigation Management Committees on FaaB, Agronomy, Good Scheme Governance and Operation and Maintenance of the irrigation system. Of great importance was the deployment of the FAO Farm Manager for enhanced day to day management of the irrigation scheme. The farmers also developed cropping calendars, crop budgets, and training manuals.

There was also the brokering and strengthening of agricultural finance, input and output markets linkage relationships with public and private sector players. Value Chain Analysis and Agro-processing surveys were also undertaken and Irrigation Engineers and a Technician from the Department of Irrigation attached to the irrigation scheme were trained. The Department of Irrigation was equipped with consumables, tools, equipment and a vehicle used to provide support to all irrigation schemes in the program.

The project registered key milestones and sustainability prospects. It resulted in improved household socio-economic status. In addition to being food secure, some of the farmers have drilled boreholes for clean drinking water, paid off school fees for their dependents whereas others (2) bought cars using proceeds from the irrigation scheme.

Enhanced irrigation management structures are now in place. The improved irrigation scheme governance is a driving force for the sustainability of smallholder irrigation schemes. FAO adopted the lead farmer approach to demonstrate and influence effectiveness of farmer training and adoption of improved technologies.


About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende