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ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN No. 46/02 (b)
Worldwide Faith News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mon, 09 Dec 2002 13:31:59 -0800
ALL AFRICA NEWS AGENCY BULLETIN No. 46/02 (b)
November 25, 2002
AANA Bulletin is an ecumenical initiative to highlight all endeavours and
experiences of Christians and the people of Africa. AANA Bulletin is
published weekly and, together with the French Edition - Bulletin APTA - is
also available through e-mail. For editorial and subscription details,
AANA Bulletin : Acting Editor - Mitch Odero
Bulletin APTA: Edition en frangais, ridacteur intirimaire : Sylvie Alemba
FOOD CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE
Almost Every Family Requires Urgent Food Provisions
GUTU, Zimbabwe (AANA) November 25 - It is early in the morning and Jacob
and Patricia Magarire with their ten-month-old baby, still have eight
kilometres to go. They are heading for the business centre in Basera to
register their names for food distribution.
Hundreds of people have gathered in Basera, a village southern Zimbabwe's
Gutu province. Here a local aid organisation, Christian Care (CC), is in
the process of registering villagers for food distribution. (CC is a member
of Action By Churches Together ACT- a global alliance of churches and
related agencies working in the field of humanitarian relief)
The distribution is targeted at 40,000 beneficiaries for general feeding
and 13,500 for children under five year old for supplementary feeding.
People are registered and vetted according to their needs and "the level of
poverty is the main criteria we use," says Courage Chirobe, a CC programme
officer. "Also female or child-headed-households are considered first".
The vetting process is explained to the villagers by Mugove Chakurira,
another CC programme officer, first to the village leaders and then to all
the people who have come. He emphasises that Christian Care is neutral when
it comes to food distribution and that regardless of political affiliation,
gender or beliefs, anyone who qualifies according to the needs assessment
is entitled to food.
For Jacob Magarire and the hundreds of other villagers, their hope of food
now lies with Christian Care. The drought that has gripped this part of the
country for months has seen to it that jobs are no longer easy to come by.
"Nobody needs my services at the moment," says the 29-year blacksmith. They
harvested nothing during last year's harvest and all the maize, groundnuts
and sorghum that he and his wife had planted on their piece of land was
lost, he explains.
Anna Zindonga, who is also standing in the registration queue, did some dry
planting a day before. "I am just trying anything," says Anna, who has four
children. Her husband works in Bulawayo. During the good rainy seasons, she
usually harvested two bags of maize, which saw her through to the next
season. Now she has to beg food from her neighbours.
Another couple Sokai and Janet Shoko say they have no more food left to
eat. Until recently they could buy from the shops, "if there was anything,"
says Sokai. But now they have run out of money and they had nothing to eat
for the last two days.
A group of women who have come back from registering for food relief in a
nearby village expressed their relief by chanting and singing as they
walked home. They showed us the wild fruits that they now survive on,
(which they grind into porridge.)
"People are very happy that Christian Care is distributing food," says
Rev R.D Mavinga from Basera, who is also assisting in the registration
process which was finalised at the end of October.
Food distribution started early November. Programme officer Courage Chisobe
hopes that they will receive more funding. "This would allow us to extend
the number of people, who will benefit from food relief," says Chisobe.
However, Joseph Goko, Christian Care area manager for Masvingo South, says
that it has now become difficult to define the needy ones. "Almost every
family here is in need of food," says Goko adding that even if they have
the money, there is often no place where to buy the food. "The only
solution is food aid"
He emphasises that the food crisis in Zimbabwe will deteriorate rapidly
without rain and then says, although the crisis is not as visible as in
other countries like Ethiopia for instance, it will be too late for many
people when the world finally realises the extent of the emergency.
Reported by Rainer Lang
School Children Benefit From Feeding Programmes
BEIT BRIDGE, Zimbabwe (AANA) November 25 - More than 300 school children,
each with a plate in hand, are lining up for porridge in front of the
school building. It is lunch break at Matshiloni Primary School in Beit
Bridge in southern Zimbabwe.
The porridge, which is prepared over a fire in a large pot, is a mixture of
maize meal and soya beans, rich in minerals and vitamins, explains Dambudzo
Kumbirai Nolorao, the teacher in charge of the Supplementary Feeding
The programme is run by Lutheran Development Service (LDS) - a member of
the global alliance Action by Churches Together ACT International. "The
brain of a child needs good food," adds the director of the school, Marunwa
The programme, which LDS has been running since last October, was started
to counteract the severe drought in Zimbabwe that left families in the
rural areas without enough food to feed their children.
However, for most of the pupils, the supplementary food, is the only meal
that they get to eat per day. The food crisis has not only affected poor
families in the rural areas, but also teachers and other workers based in
Although they can afford to buy food, many of the shops are empty, explains
Siphuma. The shortage of basic commodities such as maize meal, the staple
food in Zimbabwe, has increased the urgent need for food aid in the country.
Siphuma tells how his deputy received a phone call that morning that his
children who live in the city of Bulawayo have run out of food in the house
and he had to go around looking for food to buy.
"We too will die if no rain falls," says Siphuma. "Have you seen the bones
along the road?" he asks. "The cattle are dying because even they do not
have enough food. Some cows are lying along the road, too weak to get up".
An irrigation project in the district "Rovhana Roita", which is part of the
Integral Rural Development project run by LDS, has also been affected by
the drought. The project, which started in the year 2000, has 40 people
working on it - 34 women and six men.
James Mukwame a former farm labourer is happy about the project. Boreholes
were drilled for the irrigation, which provides water for a big vegetable
garden and the project's cattle.
By selling their vegetables and cattle, the project turns a small profit -
had there not been a drought, the programme, which in the past had won
regional and national agricultural prizes, would be self-supporting, says
There is however a big need for emergency preparedness. Loud Nyoni, an
administrative officer with the rural district office of Beit Bridge and
the person in charge of co-ordinating the work of the NGOs in the area, has
challenged the ones operating in the district to build more dams.
He also urges the NGOs to upgrade the irrigation systems which are now old
and outdated. This way, he believes, when the next drought strikes, the
people of the district will be able to cope.
Reported by Rainer Lang
Widespread Drought, Poverty Hinders School Enrolment
GUTU, Zimbabwe (AANA) November 25 - The three young boys are resting in the
shade of a small tree after a long and hard day's work as farm labourers on
Muungani farm in Gutu Province, southern Zimbabwe.
Late as it is in the day, the sun still burns down, sapping the earth of
its moisture and baking the soil into a hard, barren crust*.
One of the youngsters, 10-year old Shebad Mazhangara, who has been working
on the farm for about a year now, explains that they do not go to school
because their parents cannot afford the school fees. Shebad says he works
to help his parents and seven siblings survive.
Shebad and his two friends, Timothy Shajactimwe (17) and Tatenda Matare
(13) each earn about Zim $1,000 a month. "That is nothing," says Leston
Zhou from the Lutheran Development Service (LDS), a member of Action by
Churches Together (ACT) International.
He adds, "that is not more than one US dollar". But Shebad and his friends
are adamant that they are grateful to be employed. The three youngsters
live in Gutu Province in the southern part of Zimbabwe, an area hit hardest
by the recent drought that has devastated the whole of southern Africa.
The majority of people in the province are subsistence farmers, cultivating
small plots of land. LDS and Christian Care (CC), also a member of ACT
International, are both helping people whose lives have been devastated by
the drought and factors such as the political instability in the country
and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The three boys work alongside several adults on the farm, preparing the
fields for the coming season. "Last year's drought affected this year's
harvest," explains Farai Wadzanai, one of the older farm workers.
"We hope for rain," he says, looking up at the sky, adding that he no
longer has enough food to feed his family. Yet Farai insists on sending at
least two of his four children to school, finding the Z$24 per child in
This is far too much on his salary as Farai only earns Zim $2000 a month -
an amount that does not stretch very far when a 20kg bag of ground maize
costs Zim $1800
To supplement his income, Farai resorts to borrowing from his employer or
asks his neighbours for help. The longer the drought lasts, the more he is
caught up in a cycle of poverty. The chief of Chingombe Village, Garal
Gonese, who works as a teacher, is worried about the impact of the drought
on the educational system.
Food prices have shot up so dramatically over the last few months, that
parents are faced with a stark choice -to feed their children if they still
can, or send them to school, he explains. "A year ago a loaf of bread cost
Zim $45," says Gonese. "Now, it has gone up to Zim $140".
At Batanayi School, where Gonese teaches, 170 students of the original 540
have left school to find work. "They work for a meagre salary of between
100 to 300 Zimbabwean dollars a week on the fields or they go to the forest
to gather wild fruits to sell," says Gonese. "It is terrible".
One sees children everywhere trying to make ends meet. Along the main
roads, they cluster together selling laundry detergents. They consider
themselves lucky - in the mornings they attend school and then join their
parents at the selling points in the afternoon.
However, for Shebad and his friends', the future is a bleaker one. The loss
of education they are suffering now will inevitably have a severe impact on
their lives. Without an education their prospects will simply dwindle to a
few limited options later in life.
Reported by Rainer Lang - (*The farm where the three boys are eking out a
living had not seen rain in months when the writer,Rainer Lang, visited the
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