Barriers to access land in Zimbabwe_ Newsday Zimbabwe_ August 2016

Date: August 20, 2016
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Name of the story: Barriers to access land in Zimbabwe

Name of the station: Newsday Zimbabwe

Country: Zimbabwe


Brief description of the item of work you submitted and motivation of why it is a good example of gender awareness and sensitivity in advancing gender equality Post-2015.

There are linkages between access, rights, and security, and barriers to access land and its productivity that are faced by women in Zimbabwe. However, there are opportunities arising for economic, social and political empowerment of women farmers, and to it is important to find ways of securing women’s access and rights to land.

Most women live in rural areas where their livelihoods depend on agriculture. Compared to their male counterparts, women that have access to small pieces of land produce less although interventions by organisations like Women and Land in

Zimbabwe (WLZ) and the Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) are resulting in an increase in land production. It was also observed that most of the women farmers were not utilising the land optimally. The reasons given and those observed for low utilisation of land were lack of/access to inputs, access to drought power hence they ended up cropping late, shortage of skilled labour and extension services. This was also compounded by lack of skills in farm management and cropping particular for the rural-based women farmers.

Seed and fertilisers have been difficult to procure because they are expensive. Women do not know how to use herbicide to kill weeds hence they depend on labour. For those who have the knowledge, they do not have the money as there was a time in the country when there was a shortage of money in the banks.

This was due to the hyperactive inflationary environment that the country has been facing over the past years. The unavailability of irrigation and lack of the access to land by women also increases food insecurity. The marketing of women’s crops is very frustrating as prices for produce are low, while inputs are expensive. The money received from the produce is less than the cost of inputs.


Why did you produce the story? What problem or context is it responding to?

Rural-based smallholder women farmers have to learn to mitigate and adapt to climate change that has not only affected Zimbabwe, but also most of sub-Saharan Africa.

Climate change is any long-term significant change in the “average weather” that a given region experiences whereas average weather may include average temperature, precipitation and wind patterns.

The story sought to educate communal and small-scale farmers on how best to be prepared ahead of the then oncoming planting season as well as to increase their understanding and skills on practical implications of climate change and appropriate coping and adaptation strategies for smallholder farmers.

There was the need to identify and estimate risks of all types — not only crop risks, but also underlying risks that make people and their livelihoods vulnerable to hazards, stresses and shocks, including climate variability and change and be able to assist farmers, especially women, to do the same.

Key objectives

What did you hope to achieve with this coverage?

The story was meant to capacitate women to plan for adaptation to climate change and climate variability; to interpret, analyse the historical climate data and seasonal climate forecast and communicate with farmers about these in a timely and effective manner to assist them in decision-making. This also includes directly working with smallholder farmers in identifying, developing or adapting appropriate solutions and/or technologies that will help to build the resilience of the farmers.

Target audience

Whom did you hope to reach? Did you succeed in reaching this audience? What evidence do you have to that effect?

The story targeted smallholder women farmers particularly those based in the rural areas. To begin with, it primarily targeted women specifically identified by Women and Land in Zimbabwe who were drawn from such districts like Chipinge and Gokwe.

Those women from Gokwe North from the Chitekete and Chimuchembu area were particularly targeted because they grow drought-resistant small-grain crops like sesame. Apart from these the article was targeted at policymakers who include the ministry of environment, water and climate and that of agriculture as it relates to climate adaptation strategies targeting the women who form the bulk of the majority of farmers particularly in rural areas. Apart from these, the story was also intended for agricultural extension officers to influence them to come up with tailor-made extension farming knowledge particularly those facing intermittent droughts due to climate change.

Since civil society organisations play an important advocacy role in mainstreaming gender equality, they were also targeted to influence them to create programmes that address problems faced by women as they relate to gender equality, poverty eradication and economic empowerment.

  1. How did you go about researching and writing the story?

How did you gather the data, how many sources, female and male did you consult? Why did you choose these sources and how were their voices important?

To come up with the article, I attended various meetings held by Women and Land in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, especially the capacity building and feedback workshops. I would also accompany the two organisations, which facilitated field tours to the women farmers in the various districts to assess their progress.

In addition to this, I was in touch with agricultural extension officers, ministers and senior government officials from the ministries of agriculture and; environment, water and climate change. Aside from this, I also did the desktop research where I focused on efforts towards gender mainstreaming. I also was in touch with the editorial team of Newsday Zimbabwe to correct the grammar and adhere to the editorial policy of the media house.


What impact did it have? What evidence do you have to illustrate impact?

Please provide any examples of feedback that you received from the articles (from websites, letters, etc.)

I was particularly impressed by the knowledge gained by the growers of sesame small-grain in the Gokwe area. I witnessed that the women there were capacitated on how to adequately prepare their land ahead of the planting season. Those women who previously did not have drought power were capacitated to consider zero tillage by simply digging holes and putting organic manure.

The women were also motivated by the story to use the best methods of proper use of pesticides and fertilisers. I realised that the project benefitted 2000 farmers up from just 200 before the introduction of the project by the

Zimbabwe Coalition on debt, Development, Women, and Land in Zimbabwe. From collectively producing just over 5 tonnes of sesame, the women produced 30 tonnes of the small grains. The women previously struggled in identifying markets for their produce but thanks to the programme, they managed to sell the 30 tonnes of sesame at $US0, 70 up from US$0, 20.

The women increased their disposable income. Some managed to buy maize to last them until the next season, while some bought seed, fertilizers and implements ahead of the next season. Other women are now able to send their children to school. Pictures that I will attach along with this piece are testimony to the impact that this project has had.

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Follow up

How would you conduct a follow up to your story and why?

I have created a database of the women farmer beneficiaries and I am always in touch with the women farmer’s associations they have formed. In trying to monitor their progress, I have lined up feedback meetings with the women farmers to assess their ability to impart the knowledge they have gained from training workshops to their peers in the various communities.

I always ask the civil society organisations and ask them to fulfil their promises and commitments to the communities. I also monitor the progress by the various ministers in implementing policies and strategies to adapt and mitigate impacts of climate change as they relate to women. I also ask beneficiaries about their feelings and commitments towards the new projects and how they intend to build on the knowledge gained.

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