Conceding defeat in  fight against nature ... as Gokwe's worsening water crisis goes unnoticed

THE sun is ruthlessly scorching the cotton hub province, with the white gold and maize crops giving in to the vagaries of the sun, while rivers and water streams dry-up.

Scores of young women and girls are travelling close to six kilometres on empty stomachs every day under the blazing sun along Chitekete, with buckets in their hands in search of the precious liquid, water.

Chitekete is part of the Gokwe Kabuyuni constituency which comprises Zumba, parts of Sengwa and Madzivazvido and is prone to droughts.

People here survive on cultivation of fodder crops and cotton.
With the area being characterised by subsistence farmers whose main cash crop is cotton; the prolonged dry spell has severely damaged the crop and most people’s livelihoods have been greatly affected.
A drought is looming in Gokwe North in the Midlands Province, with acute water shortages and severely wilted crops. 

Villagers here think the gods have turned their backs on the area.
While Cyclone Idai is wreaking havoc in Manicaland, Gokwe has not received a single drop of the rains as yet, leaving the locals in suspense and waiting to see if the heavens will smile upon them.
Locals who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday said their crops were damaged and wells are drying up, making life difficult and unbearable.

“This year, I tried planting maize so that I get something to eat with my family but the crops were damaged, they did not survive the heat and as it is right now, we do not have enough food to go by. 
“Our only hope are welfare donations which do not cover everyone, to make matters worse,” said Luckmore Bhebhe, a distraught villager.

“I usually get piece jobs for cotton harvesting but this season the sector performed badly and there are no prospects of employment there. 
“I don’t know what I’m going to do this year, I have to raise money to send my kids to school but the situation on the ground is tough.”

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network pronounced that the late start of season and below-average rains for the 2018-19 cropping season have resulted in below-normal cropped areas, significant rates of temporary and permanently wilted crop, and poor water and pasture conditions, especially in arid areas.
Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Larry Mavima has already indicated that nearly 50 percent of the crop in the province is a write-off owing to poor rains.

He said they are in the process of assessing the crop situation in the province, but things are not looking good, and added that there is need for a detailed report first before figures can be given.
Gokwe Kabuyuni constituency Member of Parliament Leonard Chikomba has declared a disaster as he pointed out that the situation on the ground was not pleasing and villagers will soon require government aid.

“This year, we received the poorest of rainfalls and considering that this area is already a drought prone area, people will suffer as their livelihoods have been affected in many ways,” Chikomba said.
“Most locals survive on cotton farming and this scenario has dealt a heavy blow to them. In Gokwe you cannot talk of industry without talking of cotton farming.

“I would like to call upon government to do something about Gokwe to solve this long-standing problem, we need irrigation and dams to sustain us. There is a place already; (Sema River) where government just need to connect pipes and the dam can sustain Gokwe north and south.”

Cottco chairperson for the Nunyunka depot Tobias Mpofu said government has to intervene because people might die of hunger and stress, topped up by walking very long distances amounting to five to six kilometres to get water to drink.

“To top to our problems is the fact that even borehole water is a problem to access, some of the water is salty and most of the time, one has to dig four metres down to reach and start pumping water,” said Mpofu.

“We need the Department of Social Welfare to assist us in this dilemma. So far, Adventist Development and Relief Agency is facilitating the feeding schemes in this area whereby they give pupils food at schools, but soon we will need more help.”

This comes after the United Nations estimated that a total of 5,3 million Zimbabweans will need food aid and has started efforts to raise funds to bridge the food deficit to avert a massive humanitarian crisis.