Famine stalks Buhera

BUHERA - Irrigation and food handouts will not resolve Buhera’s perennial starvation, but resettling villagers in rich soils, authorities here have said.

Rolland Madondo, Buhera District Administrator (DA) said resettling the community in arable lands was the only viable long-term solution.

“Hunger is a fact,” he said. “I do not know why people were settled here in the first place.

Essentially we are outside areas where we can talk of productive agriculture. We talk of the grain loan scheme, how will the community pay back when the hunger situation is indefinite?

“Talk of food aid, feeding a quarter of a million with food handouts every year is unhealthy while irrigation is nonexistent. The question is, can we afford to build and equip all these people?

“There is no harvest even with small grains. Resettling these people would be the best if land was available, otherwise the problem continually goes unabated,” Madondo said on Friday on the sidelines of the belated Manicaland World Aids Day commemorations.

At least 50 percent of the district is in natural farming region five, 35 percent in region four and 15 percent is in region three.  

Madondo said community emissaries have been frequenting his office weaning about the impending famine.

“When other districts still have plenty, I have representatives sent to tell me that the people are hungry,” he said. “Each time you gather people to talk of other developmental issues, they begin by asking about food.” Chief Nyashanu said the situation was worsening with each season.

“Three quarters of my people need food aid,” Chief Nyashanu said. “The situation is becoming worse and worse. Animals are now perishing, and if they continue to perish we are also finished.”
A Manicaland agricultural expert with an international NGO who declined to be named, said Buhera should be used for other profitable businesses.

“Even if say, with irrigation, small grains are harvested, the means of processing them makes it difficult for them to be used as a food source for the whole family,” the expert said.

“Imagine kukuya zviyo everyday to feed a family of five. The area should just be converted into a game reserve.” Buhera has a long history of rolling famines that has left the community heavily reliant on aid from the UN World Food Programme and government year-in-year-out.

Government has been encouraging villagers to grow small grains like millet, sorghum and rapoko in dry areas as climate change worsens. - Wendy Muperi

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