Implemented in partnership with the Canadian Hunger Foundation (CHF), this project used an integrated approach that targeted vulnerable rural households in four districts of Manicaland and Matabeleland South. The project responded to the acute needs of vulnerable households through short-term input support interventions, while simultaneously addressing the chronic nature of food and livelihoods insecurity by supporting thousands of beneficiaries through its farmer, nutrition garden and income-generating groups. Beneficiaries received training and assets, and market linkages were created for both agricultural and non-timber forest products. The project also improved community-based natural resources management in the targeted areas through the implementation of plans and strategies and the development of local by-laws.
The project managed to improve food security for households through enhanced sustainable agriculture production skills like Conservation Agriculture (CA) and improved access to seed. Diversification of crops produced and consumed was also promoted in order to increase the nutrition status of households. This was achieved through promoting cultivation of a wide range of crops including legumes and cereals as well as processing and consumption of indigenous vegetable crops. Generally majority of the HH are now harvesting more than one crop which is a positive indication towards food and nutrition security. Establishment of nutrition gardens further augmented the nutritional status of households as well as increasing availability of food sources during lean periods of the year. Income generating activities contributed immensely to the HH food security as the income generated was mainly used for purchasing of food items.
Under nutrition gardens, the project managed to support 578 (174m/404F) garden beneficiaries. A total of 12 nutrition gardens (4 new and 8 old) and 60 individuals were supported by the project across the 4 districts where the project was implemented. The 4 new gardens were supported with fencing materials. Before the project the communities were using tree branches to fence the garden and this was detrimental to the environment as they were cutting trees. “We are most grateful for the fence, especially because in the past our vegetables would be eaten by goats and cattle thus leaving us with nothing to feed our families, said Rudo semwayo one of the nutrition garden beneficiary. . Use of branches was not effective and it also increased work load to members especially women as they had to take turns to chase away animals from the garden. All the nutrition garden beneficiaries (578-174 M/404) benefited from inputs, processing equipment and capacity building support from the project. . Training received covered vegetable production meant to address specific agronomic needs of the nutrition gardens. In addition, the nutrition gardens also received leadership training focusing on enhancing leadership competences of the management committees in providing leadership towards a shared vision. The impact of the trainings is now being realized as some community gardens have managed to mobilize money to buy seed, initiated small livestock pass on and females despite not being the chairpersons are taking an active role in the decision making processes.