Zimbabwe – Mercy Pamella Ngayo

Date: September 25, 2018
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“Sustaining livelihoods through irrigation.”

Mercy is a married woman with five children. Today, she reflects on how she was surviving when she was still relying on her husband for survival. “Life was unbearable and relying on someone for survival will make a person vulnerable,” she said.

Mercy once operated a butchery shop in 2007 and closed in 2008 after failing to overcome several challenges that were associated with the business. Lack of storage facilities forced her to close down because she was specialising in perishables. Lack of adequate skills on business management was also a contributing factor to her failure. The closure of the shop shattered her dreams and she continued relying on her husband for survival, a situation that exposed her to further abuse.

The year 2008 saw the economy of Zimbabwe going down and the situation impacted negatively on the horticultural sector. Mercy observed a local farmer who was into horticultural production being pushed out business by the situation and she convinced herself to try the trade. The farmer decided to leave the farm and he uprooted all the flowers and dumped them. Mercy and her friends gathered the uprooted flowers and transplanted them on her piece of land. She nurtured them until they were mature for the harvest. Unfortunately, she failed to realise any profits due the high inflation that was damaging the economy during that time.

Mercy remained optimistic that the economic meltdown will one day come to an end and she preserved the seeds for future use. The economy significantly improved in 2009 after the introduction of the multi-currency system, Mercy* adopted a “wait and see technique.” The year 2012 saw her coming back into business after satisfied that the state of the economy will allow her to remain in business. Her business grew significantly and with time she managed to put 1, 5 acres under flowers. The flowers take 3 months to mature for harvest. Most of her products are mainly used during weddings, parties and funerals.

Her encounter with Gender Links which saw her enrolled in the entrepreneurship programme came at the right time as it equipped her with skills that saw her business growing. The business management skills she gained saw her acquiring irrigation equipment to mitigate problems of erratic rainfall patterns. She also did a market survey that helped her to widen her market base and maximized profits.

Community members benefited from the irrigation equipment because they started gardening projects taking advantage of the presence of the newly installed irrigation system. Mercy* has plans to sink a borehole to maximize water supplies and ensure that her project and the community have adequate water. Apart from supplying the community with water she also created employment for the community members.

Mercy’s living standard was raised from the lower to the middle class. When she was financially empowered, the levels of violence in her house decreased. Nevertheless, the violence recently started and she felt that it was triggered by the fact that her husband felt jealous when he saw her progressing in life.