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July 27, 2017

Zambezi biodiversity project may assist rural women

Filed under: Feature,health — Nhaudzenyu @ 11:49 am
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By Nhau Mangirazi

HURUNGWE- Twenty two year old Ratidzo Hungwe of Muchini village in Hurungwe ward 25, Chief Dandawa looks depressed.

She is eight months pregnant and has not registered yet at at Zvipani clinic about 25 kilometers away.

Her story is the reality gripping many pregnant women villagers here some travelling for over 50 kilometers to access a health facility.

For pregnant women it is worse as the country battles to control maternal health rate currently pegged at 614 per 100 000 births reduced from 960 in 2015.

Of course its mandatory to register at clinics on time  but we do not have the $10 to spare for that. This the the third child am expecting and it is just normal to go there when I am ready to give birth,’ she said with confidence.

Hurungwe Rural District Council, HRDC, gender mainstream officer, Alice Paraziwa-Maponga has passion to see things changing for the better for women like Ratidzo.

She believes a biodiversity project currently on consultation must benefit women and girl child in particular.

The initiative Strengthening biodiversity and ecosystem management and climate smart partnership landscapes in the mid to lower Zambezi region of Zimbabwe, will start next year and will run until 2024.

The project is aimed at maintaining sustainable biodiversity.

‘This is a positive development for women as they are the major victims of human-wildlife conflict here. It 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.

Global Environment Facility

Hurungwe is among three local authorities including Mbire and Muzarabani set to benefit from a $10 million injection from Global Environment Facility, GEF, with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) monitoring the implementation process.

There will be a core financing of $52 million from local partners including from Ministry of Water, Environment and Climate Change including department of 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 and with a 3 percent annual growth projection, the population could now be around 390 000.

Participants during a recent stakeholders meeting held in Magunje about 35 kilometers west of Karoi town agreed that there is critical need to curb animal and human conflict.

Some highlighted that there is need for the communities to be ‘empowered and such projects where issues of environment, animals and human are discussed’  

Traditional leaders including Chiefs, headmen, heads of Government departments were among participants.

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.

Engage communities

Council chairman Tichaona Matthew said for Strengthening biodiversity and ecosystem management and climate smart partnership landscapes in the mid to lower Zambezi region of Zimbabwe project to be a success, 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 Program 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 (Strengthening biodiversity and ecosystem management and climate smart partnership landscapes in the mid to lower Zambezi region of Zimbabwe) project. We must not impose it on them,’ said Matthew.

Council chief executive officer Joram Moyo said there is need for political will from 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.

For women like Ratidzo who are suffering in silence to access health facility, the biodiversity project may soon revive hope and reduce the country maternal health challenges.

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