World Hunger Day 2016
One of the Find Your Feet team, Lynn, has just visited Zimbabwe to meet some of the families we work with to grow more food, earn more income and to speak out against injustice.
It’s World Hunger Day on 28th May. This year, speaking out against hunger and injustice is even more important. Southern Africa is in the grip of a severe El Niño-induced drought. As a result, in Zimbabwe half of the country's rural population will need assistance by next year with rain not expected for several months. Already, nearly five million people are facing food shortages.
That’s why Find Your Feet’s work to help farming communities become more productive and resilient is needed more than ever. I visited Mutoko, in the north of Zimbabwe, where granite peaks dominate and people rely on the land for their survival.
As we walked into Kawere village, I was shocked by how parched the land was underfoot – this was the end of the rainy season, when the ground should be red and soft and the cereal crops lush and tall. Instead, as Margret Chironda and her husband Elijah showed us around their small farm, I was met by the sight of weak, stunted maize stalks.
‘Our maize has failed. Last year the harvest was better because the rains came on time. This year, we had some small rains only in February’. Margret told me this as she stood over the only source of water, barely a few inches at the bottom of a small pond, which she uses to water her entire farm by hand.
Which is worrying. Because Margret and Elijah have to provide for their family of 12, a mix of children and grandchildren of all ages, who all live and work together on the farm. There is no other employment in the area so they rely on the farm not only for food but to earn a living too.
But Margret and Elijah lead me into another field – this time, full of strong, healthy looking sorghum. This is small seed cereal crop that is more drought resistant. Working alongside Find Your Feet, Margret has tried out some different ways of farming that suit her land and the changing climate.
Together, the couple have had training in soil and water conservation, compost making, crop rotations, agroforestry, intercropping, mulching, producing and conserving small grains. They are less reliant on chemical fertilizers and pesticides – using natural resources is cheaper and more sustainable. Now Margret and Elijah use their land to demonstrate what works and doesn’t work to other farmers, so knowledge is spreading further.
Find Your Feet has also helped the family to make better use of local natural resources such as wild plants. Indigenous vegetables are an overlooked source of nutrition. But now Margret is harvesting green leafy vegetables such as black jack and pumpkin leaves, super nutritious and healthy.
Using a new hygienic and durable solar drier, the family can now keep all kinds of fruit and vegetables for much longer, providing food for her family in the dry season or ‘hungry months’ ahead. And they can store surplus food to sell later, ensuring a higher price out of season. This boosts family income and makes everyone less vulnerable.
Intercropping cereals with ground nuts means an extra source of nutrition for Margaret’s granddaughter now but it’s also helping rebuild soil fertility life for future generations.
I left Margret and Elijah, readying themselves to harvest the sorghum at the end of March. They were proud to be caring for local varieties of seed that were becoming scarce in Zimbabwe.
‘At least we have some food this year, despite the drought. We won’t plant maize next year, we’ll plant even more sorghum and rapoko. We are bringing our seeds and our land back to life!’
Find Your Feet’s ‘Dura Project’ in Mutoko is helping 1050 families to grow enough healthy, nutritious food to last all year thanks to our supporters the innocent foundation and Autonomous.