from PATRICK CHITONGO in Chikombedzi
CHIKOMBEDZI, (CAJ News) – COMING in the wake of a deadly cyclone Idai that devastated southern African region, the annual cultural exhibition for indigenous communities in Chikombedzi, Chiredzi will this year focus on how villagers can mitigate the effects of climate change and disasters.
The expo is scheduled for the Gaza Trust Village at Mhlanguleni in Chiredzi south (some 600km south-east of Harare) on October 3-6 under the theme, ‘Indigenous Knowledge and Living Heritage.’
“The idea is to ensure that our community members adapt to adverse effects of climate change as rain fed agriculture is no longer reliable as key source of livelihood. We intend to diversify the communities’ livelihoods,” Hebert Phikela, founder and director of the Centre for Cultural Development, or the Gaza Trust.
The organisation develops and conserves the cultural heritage of the minority communities, such as the Shangaan (VaTsonga) in southeast Zimbabwe. The upcoming expo would also assist farmers in the drought-prone diversify their activities.
Some of the priority projects agreed upon, which will also be exhibited during the expo include livestock artificial insemination, fish farming, water melon farming, bee farming, biogas and restoration of grazing areas.
Phikela said the initiatives were designed to ensure that farming in this dry community was done throughout the year.
He said the expo would also explore ways on alternative energy, particularly the use of biogas.
Other projects include the provision of indigenous food, beverages, medicines as well as growing and conservation of medicinal plants.
All the projects will be done by the community with technical assistance from the Chinhoyi University of Technology.
A team of professors from Chinhoyi University of Technology will also attend the exhibition to provide input on various projects that can be done in the drought prone region.
Recently the Chinhoyi University team led by Prof Herbert Chimhundu was at Mhlanguleni as preparations for the expo gather momentum.
Officials from the Gaza Trust, the Department of Veterinary and Women and Law Southern Africa among others attended.
Resolutions made during the meeting include strengthening of a memorandum of agreement between Gaza Trust and the university.
The agreement entails research and implementation of various ways the community can do to be self-reliant during drought seasons.
Chiredzi South Member of Parliament (MP), Callisto Gwanetsa, applauded the initiatives and research by the university.
“I am pleased to note that Chinhoyi University of Technology is assisting us in mitigating hunger and poverty. These researches will go a long way in uplifting lives of people in Chiredzi South considering that the area has low rainfall every year. These projects will help us a lot since they are modeled in a way that makes them sustainable even in
arid and dry areas like ours,” Gwanetsa said.
Despite being a dry region, southeastern Zimbabwe was not spared the devastation of Cyclone Idai in March. The heavy rains fell and widespread flash flooding claimed at least 634 lives, with no less than 257 people missing. An estimated 270 000 people were affected.
– CAJ News