By Nhau Mangirazi
Scores of women in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley are set to benefit from a project aimed at maintaining sustainable bio-diversity in the region.
Hurungwe Rural District Council, HRDC, gender mainstream officer, Alice Paraziwa-Maponga, said the initiative is a positive development for women as they are the major victims of human-wildlife conflict.
The project: Strengthening biodiversity and ecosystem management and climate smart partnership landscapes in the mid to lower Zambezi region of Zimbabwe, is due to start next year and will run until 2024.
Paraziwa-Maponga said: “This project will empower women and the girl child in general as they are victims of human and animal conflict. Women must be involved at planning stages as they are also likely to suffer due to lack of water.
“We call upon implementers to consider sinking of boreholes and rigs for better water and sanitation among other commitments. This will empower women and girl child in the long run,’’ said Paraziwa-Maponga.
Hurungwe is among three local authorities, including Mbire and Muzarabani, set to benefit from a $10 million injection from Global Environment Facility, GEF, with assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
There will be core financing of $52 million from local partners including the Ministry of Water, Environment and Climate Change, and the department of Wildlife and National Parks, among other stakeholders.
Paraziwa-Maponga said money accrued from the projects would economically empower the girl child through entrepreneurship trainings and nutrition gardens since the district’s livelihoods are agro-based.
‘Women and the girl child are greatly disadvantaged due to lack of quality education. On social services and amenities, we look forward to seeing renovation of dilapidated clinics in outlying rural communities and building of more clinics that will assist pregnant women who normally walk for more than 70 kilometers to access a health facility. That has a negative impact on the maternal health of our communities,’’ she said.
According to the 2012 National Census, the district had a population of 329 197. With a 3 percent annual growth projection, the population could now be around 390 000.
Participants at a recent stakeholders meeting agreed on the critical need to curb animal and human conflict. Others highlighted the need for communities to be empowered to own the projects.
Among the participants were traditional leaders including chiefs, headmen and heads of government departments
Hurungwe district administrator, Friend Ngirazi, said all stakeholders should come on board and share ideas about the project.
‘We are gathered here to discuss issues that affect communities but we must be frank to each other and map the way forward truthfully,” said Ngirazi.
Council chairman Tichaona Matthew, said for the project to succeed, communities must own it from inception.
“As policymakers we are not against any developmental projects, but we feel short-changed when communities do not own these projects. Although the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources, Campfire, was a success story as it left tangible evidence including clinics, schools and better roads maintenance through proceeds accrued, it was later rejected when communities felt they were being side-lined.
“That is the challenges we must address before we engage the communities and they must own this project. We must not impose it on them,” said Matthew.
Council chief executive officer Joram Moyo, said there is need for political will on the part of policy makers.
The project will cover at least 40,000 square kilometers in Hurungwe that still boasts of elephants, cheetahs, hyenas and lions, among other animals.
It will cover six of the 26 wards and is likely to revive some conservancies that had been vandalised while animals were driven out due to rampant poaching soon after the land reform in 2000.