Source of mercy in Zimbabwe

30 May 2016   |   Blog   |   Zimbabwe   |   Long-term Development

Tags:  community development, agriculture, water, CaritasNews   |   No comments

Irrigation canal in Simangani

Published in CaritasNews Winter 2016

Mercy has come in two guises to the people of Simangani Village in Hwange district, Zimbabwe. Before it came, the people in this area were living in hunger and poverty. Simangani’s people are farmers, and they battle with low rainfall, poor soils and very high temperatures. Food is in short supply, and some families have to walk up to 10km to collect water.

Mercy first came to the villagers in the form of outside support – from Caritas Hwange, our partner in the region, as well as from Caritas Australia and the Australian Government, through funding by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

But the support that has brought true hope to Simangani is that of its own people.

Mr Christopher Nyoni, chairman of the Simangani Farmers Group, tells how the villagers found their own solution.

“Talking together at a community meeting, we realised that we needed an irrigation scheme. And we identified a source of water that never runs dry - the Deka River. We realised that building an irrigation canal from the river would allow us to draw water and farm all year round.”

The community committed itself to providing the labour. Caritas Hwange sourced the construction materials and a water harvesting tank, which Caritas Australia funded, together with program running and monitoring costs.

Seventy-two people of Simangani volunteered their services, including women, people looking after orphans and vulnerable children, and people with disabilities or with HIV. Many met for the first time during construction.

Mr Ncube

Mr Ncube is one of the farmers who has been involved with the construction of the reservoir tank. Usually a grain farmer, Mr Ncube, 54 years old, is married with four children. Although he is also a semi-skilled carpenter, he hadn’t been able to earn enough income through his carpentry work, so crops have been vital for his family's food supplies.

Mr Ncube first joined the project after being trained by the Project Engineer on how to build canals and reservoir tanks. He is now a member of the irrigation committee for the community. When he isn’t able to attend the project, his wife participates.

As a result of the project, Mr Ncube has been able to pay the first term of school fees for his two children who are attending secondary school. He also says that the project has brought him closer to the rest of his community.

We share responsibilities. Strong people collect river sand in wheelbarrows, walking long distances; women do the plastering of the canal, and others bring food for the group working each day. This project has united us as a community.”
Mr Ncube


Ms Mudenda from Simangani community

Ms Mudenda

Ms Mudenda looks after nine children, six of whom are orphans whose parents have passed away from AIDS. She herself is a widow, head of the household, and a subsistence farmer.

In the past, she was able to harvest around 150kg of grain each year – enough to feed her family for two and a half months of the year. For the rest of the time, she has relied upon the hand-outs from others.

Ms Mudenda first joined the project by working to clear the irrigation site. Since then, she has also helped with the construction of the canals and water reservoir.

As a result of the project, Ms Mudenda has been able to harvest green mealies (corn), which have been used to feed her family. There has even been excess, which she was able to sell, and use the income for other food and clothes for her children. Now, she no longer needs to wait for handouts from other people.

Mr Super Dube, Caritas Hwange’s Diocesan Coordinator, says, “The project has brought the community together. Whenever a member falls sick or has a bereavement, other project members visit and assist."

Working in solidarity, the Simangani community has truly been its own source of mercy.


Read more about this story in CaritasNews Winter 2016


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