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Community Leaders Front Climate Change Fight

In Zimbabwe, community leaders who include traditional leaders, councilors, legislators and the church wield much influence in most facets of life.

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Climate change has not been a much understood global phenomenon and Zimbabwe is no exception despite being a signatory to a number of international conventions that seek to tame the changing weather patterns’ effects.

However, there is now a glimmer of hope that the fight can be escalated with the emergence of community leaders across the country who are now taking the leading role in conscientising   ordinary citizens on the need for climate adaptation and mitigation practices.

In Guruve, traditional leaders and council officials   have been part of the Environment Africa’s two projects namely “Sustaining Livelihoods through Improved Climate   Change Resilience (SLICCR) and ‘Upscaling Climate Resilience Food and Nutrition Security Enhancement’(UCRFSE).

Speaking during a tour of the Manungo solar-powered  micro-irrigation scheme recently  ,village head Work Manungo who availed his piece of land for the thriving  community gardening project ,detailed how the project has impacted livelihoods in the area.

“I am delighted that after joining these project way after my wife was already in, it has proven to be a wise choice.

“We have managed to beat Kwashiorkor (a malnutrition  deficient disease)  as we are now eating a balanced diet .Poverty is also declining ,”attested village head, Manungo.

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Another village head ,Isaki Osper Dzinzi  of Dzinzi Village, Ward 4  concurred with his compatriot saying because of the climate resilience project ,cases of domestic violence have been on the decline.

“The initiatives have led us to have healthy relationships in the community as couples are now financially empowered and spend most of the time together. This obviously has seen a drop in GBV(gender-based-violence) cases ,”said Dzinzi.

A female councilor for Ward 19 in Guruve ,Ranganai  Nzvimbo, has been part of the formulation of environmental by-laws by Guruve District Council which is a historic feat as it becomes the first local authority to enact such.

“I am delighted to have been involved in the formulation of environmental by-laws by the council and we already have appointed environmental monitors who are going to undergo training so that they can be able to minimize activities that contribute to climate change,” revealed Nzvimbo.

“Right now we are battling with the rampant gold panning and it is my clarion call that every community leader should join hands in fighting this because it has led to siltation of rivers like Utete  ,”she added.

The councilor is also part of a farmer field school (FFS) where  the communal farmers are being taught conservation agriculture methods and post-harvest technologies.

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In Mashonaland West , Senator Chief Chundu is  a leading  and encouraging  conservation and climate mitigation practices  in his area.

“We are encouraging people here to plant indigenous trees that include muhacha, matupi ,mutamba ,musamvi and mutondo among many others.

“There is also a ‘fire court’ that we built , where we try  veld  fire offenders but they have to first  go through training ,”said Chief Chundu ,born Abel Mbasera.

He added that a local company, MyTree, is availing Tsotso stoves in his area , which use less firewood to minimise deforestation.

According to Environmental Africa Monitoring and Evaluation officer Laura Mlambo, ‘community leaders are key influences especially in terms of adoption of interventions and assist with selection of rightful beneficiaries for projects’.

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