Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
The District Development Fund (DDF) has partnered the Department of Social Welfare to provide food for more than 83 000 families in Manicaland under the Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy.
The programme has been ongoing since 2015, with the social welfare giving beneficiaries one 50kg bag of maize every month.
With the coming in of DDF, the families are now receiving $125 per month after being contracted to work on the rehabilitation of community roads and water bodies.
Acting provincial social welfare officer Mr Masimba Machisa said the programme was helping to alleviate hunger in communities.
“We have so far distributed 4 165 tonnes to all the beneficiaries in the province. Since the programme started in 2015, we have given 72 000 tonnes. We are targeting the most vulnerable people, families headed by the elderly, child-headed families, the chronically ill and in cases where both parents are there, but there is evidence of poverty,” he said.
He said the number of people who needed assistance exceeded the 83 000. Government was constrained in terms of resources to feed more people. Mr Machisa said development partners had since come in to fill the gap, although there was still room to increase the reach.
“With the drought we experienced last season, we have more people who are likely to go hungry during the hunger period (January to March) and we would like to increase our reach to these people. We hope to gradually add more people to the programme,” he said.
DDF Mutare district coordinator Mrs Winnie Kuhudzai said the fund had decided to join the programme to ensure that people could get money to supplement what they were getting from social welfare.
She said 10 roads in Mutare District would be repaired under the programme.
“We currently have people drawn from 43 households on the social welfare database working on the Rowa turn-off/Gwese road. They are working on opening of drains and culverts and at the end of the month, they will receive $125,” she said.
She said similar work was being done in other districts.
The DDF has also embarked on an initiative to transport grain for farmers to the GMB depots, a move meant to alleviate the burden of high transport costs on farmers and ensure that grain is delivered before the onset of the rainy season.
The fund has so far transported 1 153 tonnes of maize for 250 households in Gwenzi, Mt Selinda, Tamandai, Mapungwana, Paidamoyo and Mandikise among other areas.
About 30 tonnes has been moved from Paidamoyo, one of the hardest hit areas by the cyclone.
The fund is charging farmers $5 per kilometre, while private transporters were charging them between $600 and $800 for a 40km trip.
Mr George Chikwanda from Gwayagwaya Village said the intervention by DDF had come at an opportune time as the family was struggling with the burden of high transport costs.