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Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Community Nutrition Gardens cited as key to food security

Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

EFFORTS to improve nutrition in Matabeleland North are bearing fruit after coordinated efforts by government ministries have resulted in decreased cases of malnutrition in the province.

Amid the effects of climate change, communities are struggling to access fresh and nutritious food.

However, community nutrition gardens being coordinated by the Food and Nutrition Council in conjunction with various line ministries are providing a solution, with Hwange nutrition gardens becoming a source of nutrition and income for local communities.

The Kasibo Integrated Catchment Management Project stands out as a successful example of these gardens.

“This dam was built by people from this village from scratch in 2017 we were around 250 and since then we have immensely benefited as a community, all the 600 households. Some are part of the nutrition garden while others get water for household chores and their animals,” said one of the villagers.

Another added, “This garden has been a source of income for me and my family for the past 4 years because we sell the fruits and vegetables, and we also get our food from there.”

“We have a crop calendar that we follow so we are ensured that we have food and something to sell at any time of the year, we have also bought goats from the proceeds,” another reiterated.

Another villager said, “Ever since we started this project we have noticed that our children are healthy and we no longer have cases of kwashiorkor.”

The reduction in malnutrition cases in the province is a positive development and the government is pleased with the impact of nutrition gardens.

“Of the 30 women about 19 of them have children under 5 which are more prone to malnutrition, so by them being involved in the nutrition garden they get to plant various foods e. g butternuts which are nutritious and also there are care groups that are manned by Amalima Lokho which works in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care whereby these care groups meet somewhere and cook a nutritious meal which benefits everyone. We have also witnessed cases of malnutrition going down since these nutrition gardens started,” said Hwange District nutritionist for the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Ms Sikhulile Ncube.

“This garden’s most beneficiaries are women, it shows that there is an empowerment of women in terms of economic empowerment so as they work here they are getting income which helps them in their homes and indirectly when they have their income this turns to reduce a lot of gender-based violence because they are independent,” said Hwange District development officer for the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Mr Innocent Ncube.

The traditional leadership says the nutrition gardens initiative has guaranteed food security at the household level.

Hwange Chief, Mr Amos Lusumbami Chipaya said, “These nutrition gardens have helped us especially now as we are faced with a drought at least we are guaranteed that people will have something to eat. We are also implementing the Pfumvudza Intwasa programme as well as growing small grains.”

The Kasibo Integrated Catchment Management Project benefits 40 families in the community, with components including water harvesting, wetland protection, aquaculture, beekeeping, nutrition gardens and orchards.

These efforts are aimed at ensuring food security and maintaining good nutrition.

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