Zimbabwe: Umguza Rural District Council – Capacity Building of Livestock Farming in Umguza Rural Communities

Date: July 19, 2018
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The project sought to empower communal farmers in attaining improved animal husbandry skills. That led to raising the quality of their livestock and its market value.

Women and children, who usually bear the brunt of economical struggles in families, were given an opportunity to contribute meaningfully, not only to improving their own welfare but that of their communities in general. The project aimed to achieve the provision of technical expertise in modern and traditional livestock farming techniques. It managed to increase the number of beasts and their quality from unclassified breeds to high breeds. The increase of livestock production to the national output by communal farmers was noticeable. The communal farmers were also encouraged to be involved in multi sector stakeholder approach in effective livestock farming. Functional market linkages for the sale of the communal farmers’ livestock were established locally and nationally.

The above objectives were easily achieved through the promotion of easy and equitable access to water, financial resources, technologies and access to key animal management information by rural communal farmers. Several efforts to harmonise modern technologies with traditional and indigenous knowledge for sustainable rural livestock farming were undertaken. Resources for farming activities to communal farmers, including women, to better manage the various risks they faced, which included; marketing of their livestock, managing of water shortages, and other social and cultural challenges were dealt with. The establishment of economically viable marketing channels for livestock farmers was taken into consideration. That was meant to reduce transport costs, eliminate the middlemen who unfairly reaped where they did not sow and market distortions.

There was support training and capacity building of rural communities, engagement of extension officers to showcase winning strategies as well as field day exhibitions. Proper management of grazing areas to incorporate rotational grazing or split season veld management systems were introduced. Advanced managed breeding systems or assertive mating practices were introduced by livestock experts and the communal farmers readily accepted them. The experts also encouraged the adoption of scientific feeding systems. A partner came up with the adoption of drought management systems. Initiatives to improve quality and condition of livestock such as provision of supplementary feeding, restocking and livestock diseases management were put in place. The refurbishing of cattle feedlot at auction pens was a plus for the project.

The project had a total of 520 direct beneficiaries (280 women and 240 men). In addition the project was allocated a budget of $4 800. The project was monitored by targets which were agreed upon by the communities. The targets were subsequently followed up and reviewed jointly. There were constant field visits to evaluate projects. Integrated change control strategy was applied. It meant that the project performance was monitored and measured regularly to identify variances from the set targets. Some preventative controls measures were taken against anticipated problems. A general improvement in the people’s livelihoods was realised. There was an increased income for women and other vulnerable groups for example people living with disabilities. Such groups had little control over other productive resources such as land but sometimes owned livestock especially poultry and goats

Increased ownership of livestock, leading to more disposable income realised on their disposal for educating both the boy and girl child (social and financial inclusion). There was better and more informed animal husbandry practices leading to fruitful and beneficial livestock farming for many families. An enhanced optimal ecological footprint and livestock farming sustainability was then in place. There was a noticeable and significant contribution to the national livestock output and national wealth by the communal farmers.

There were some stereotypes and negative perceptions towards women empowerment. However, that was overcome by continuous capacity building workshops which eventually motivated the communities to view women as equal partners in every aspect. The funding of the project faced some hurdles during its infancy stages. Some self sustaining projects proved to be the best option for long term and meaningful developments. The community were self motivated and that proved to work positively for the project’s success. The self drive that the participants had led to the project’s success. The open and honest discussions which were held helped to remove the stereotypes that the men had on women.

“Vuku zenzele mama”, meaning arise and shine woman. That was the motto on every female participant’s lips. Men were clearly aware that they stood to gain more in working with women in projects implementation. Those wards had a woman village head (sabhuku) and that showed the respect that they ascribed to women. Most men later believed that women were the cradle of any nation and could never be left out in development strategies. The communities were able to get meaningful benefits from their resources. There was an appreciation of the importance of participatory development, not only among different stakeholders but also in terms of gender sensitivity. Councillors had also expressed appreciation of such development strategies and promised to offer more support to similar initiatives in future.

The project can be replicated fairly easily. In general, there was need to showcase the successes of this project to other wards so that they also emulated the approach. It was not easy to change traditional stereotypes that worked against women, but a professional and participatory engagement with all stakeholders brought about the much needed change. The participatory approach to development was set to be replicated in other sectors or programmes of council development. New partnerships needed to be forged to keep the ball rolling. The existing relationships needed to be boosted. Communication is key in every business aspect thus some outreach programmes needed to be done more often. Exceptional performances and projects needed to be showcased for publicity and marketing strategies.

One thought on “Zimbabwe: Umguza Rural District Council – Capacity Building of Livestock Farming in Umguza Rural Communities”

jabulani phiri says:

hi hope you are doing well.keep up the good work that you are doing.sorry to bother you ,can you help me where can i get the cows sales in mguza,i need to buy 2 cows,rabbits and african chicken,and the electric plough .

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