Mitigating climate change and socio-economic shocks requires collective and well-coordinated interventions for sustainable agrifood systems transformation. Recent shocks, droughts, disease outbreaks including the COVID-19 pandemic has made it imperative and urgent to align response and recovery programmes with integrated approaches as the world intensifies efforts to achieve sustainable development goals and the 2030 agenda. Zimbabwe is no exception.
The Government of Zimbabwe, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UNICEF are implementing an integrated resilience building European Union funded project entitled: “Enhanced Resilience for Vulnerable Households in Zimbabwe,” (ERVHIZ) which was initiated in 2020. The project focuses on agriculture, nutrition and WASH interventions coupled with early warning anticipatory actions to protect lives and productive assets against the impact of economic and climate hazards. The project is implemented in six districts in the Matabeleland South province.
Three years down the line, significant progress has been made while also acknowledging challenges and lessons learned along the way. With one year of implementation remaining, a high-level field mission took to the field to take stock of the results of the unique agriculture-nutrition integration with WASH interventions.
“The Government of Zimbabwe is very impressed by the progress made in this project as evidenced by what we have seen on the ground. We can see that there is a lot of infrastructure development and capacity building of communities which will ensure resilience and sustainability beyond the project life cycle,” asserted Honourable Davis Marapira, Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development (MLAFWRD) in his remarks on behalf of the Government at the end of the high-level field mission.
The field mission demonstrated the integration approach as evidenced by the visits to Farmer Field Schools, a flagship FAO approach to transformative agrifood systems; field visits to solar-powered piped water schemes, nutrition gardens, nutrition care groups, youth entrepreneurship groups as well as school health clubs.
The FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa and Representative to Zimbabwe, Patrice Talla firmly underscored the critical importance of integration and coordination during the tour.
“This tour demonstrated results from integration of interventions across agriculture, nutrition and WASH sectors. FAO is committed to replicating, expanding and mobilizing resources for implementation of integrated approaches as witnessed during this tour,” said Talla. “The ERVHIZ project is a best practice in proving how collaborative efforts have massive results and impact while using minimal resources,” added Talla while acknowledging the EU for its support to the project.
The UNICEF Country Representative, Tajudeen Oyewale commented the importance of integration among development partners in particular the UN to UN coordination aligned to the cooperation framework and the Government`s National Development Strategy 1.
Results on the ground clearly show that the ERVHIZ is well poised to transform the livelihoods of vulnerable households in the face of economic and climate induced shocks and stresses in Zimbabwe. The tour was concluded with an acknowledgement of communities participating in the project. The Government called on for replication and expansion of the ERVHIZ model to other provinces and districts in Zimbabwe.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.