Zimbabwe adopts Build Back Better strategy…food distribution begins in Matabeleland North Villagers offload grain from a truck for distribution at Kenmaur, Matabeleland North province recently. (Picture: Eliah Saushoma)

Chronicle Writers

THE Government has implemented the Build-Back Better (BBB) strategy in response to the devastating El Nino-induced drought, as the distribution of food aid to food-insecure households has begun in Matabeleland North province. 

The move is designed to cushion citizens from worsening hunger after receiving poor yields in the 2023/24 farming season due to drought-induced conditions. 

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development will be drilling 7 000 boreholes to improve water access, and individuals seeking food aid must also enrol in climate-proofing (Pfumvudza/Intwasa) farming exercise or risk not receiving aid. 

The Government has declared a state of disaster and expects to distribute relief grain once every three months to mitigate the impact of the drought, with plans to support up to 7,7 million people until next year.

Speaking during a drought mitigation meeting for Matabeleland provinces in Bulawayo yesterday, Public Works, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, July Moyo, said while the country has made an international appeal for aid, the expectation is that most of the aid would come from within. 

“The President has appealed and we are hopeful that we are going to get assistance from outside. But the world has changed as there are incidences of floods in some countries in Asia and Africa. So, in our view, there will be a shortage of resources from outside and we will rely on our own,” said Minister Moyo.

“We did it in the past when we had Cyclone Idai; our people and the Government contributed 76 percent of what we ended up using there. When we had Covid-19, unlike with other countries, what made us survive was the resources that were 74 percent mobilised locally and 26 percent from the outside world.”

Minister July Moyo

Minister Moyo said while the Government is expected to provide the bulk of aid to food-insecure households, members of the public should also support their relatives who need assistance. 

Minister Moyo said under the BBB programme, able-bodied individuals will be engaged in programmes to develop infrastructure in their communities in exchange for food. 

“I know that there is a slogan now that says build better the first time, but when a disaster has struck, you have to build back better and that is the slogan that we want to use to overcome future disasters. The President has made a resilience call so that when our people get out of this situation, especially with the expectation of a La Nina, we must prepare so that we can do better than this year,” he said.

“Zimbabweans in all our disasters have come out better than before. If you look at what happened during Cyclone Idai, the people of Chimanimani can attest to how the country built back better. By building back better the next disaster should find us better than what the last one was.”

Minister Moyo said the El Nino-induced drought has left a lot of able-bodied people food-insecure and these will be required to work to help improve infrastructure within their communities. He said in rural areas, traditional leaders will co-ordinate the identification of projects to be improved.

“We are talking about building their own schools, clinics, dip tanks, weirs in small rivers. They need to gather stones, local authorities need to provide them with cement, but these weirs also give moisture so we are fighting climate change by building more weirs,” said Minister Moyo.

“In the urban areas, we need to clean our cities. Our cities must take this opportunity to say those who are going to get cash and are able-bodied should work and create resilience.”

The Government is expected to distribute relief grain once every three months to reduce the related cost.

In April, President Mnangagwa declared a state of disaster in response to the drought induced by El Nino which was characterised by low rainfall, saying the country requires over US$2 billion towards various interventions envisaged in the spectrum of the national response. 

In Tsholotsho, the District Development Co-ordinator, Mr Aaron Gono, said the Government has delivered enough maize at the local Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depot.

“Tsholotsho has already received enough grain to feed all the villagers from the 22 wards and we are now working on modalities to transport the maize from the GMB to the villagers,” he said. 

Mr Gono said the district needs 519 metric tonnes of maize for its population.

“We are set to distribute the maize to the people, and what we have at the depot is enough for us to do two-and-a-half rounds of deliveries per household. I have been informed that money for the transporters has already been deposited and we are ready to go,” he said.

In Lupane District, food distribution has started and last week, 600 bags of grain were distributed in Daluka Ward.

A local village head, Mr Khumbula Mpala, said: “We thank the Government for its timeous intervention through this programme given that the situation was now really bad as we didn’t harvest anything.”

Ward 19 councillor, Thabani Dube, said his ward received 600 bags on Wednesday.

“The President said no one will die of hunger and we received 600 bags which were distributed in my ward. We have 120 homes with each household having an average of seven people. Each person got 7,5kgs of grain,” he said.

Ms Martha Nyathi could not hide her excitement as she received her share.

“I am so happy because I received food aid from the Government. We harvested nothing and for me, it was tough since I am a widow looking after seven children and grandchildren,” she said. 

 

 

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