Zimbabwe – Coping with Drought and Climate Change

  1. Title of your Project

Coping with Drought and Climate Change

  1. Name of organisation
  • United Nations Development Programme (Coordinates)
  • Environmental Management Agency of Zimbabwe (Implements with the assistance of a full time Project Management Unit)
  1. Location of project

Community: Chiredzi district
Province: Masvingo Province
Country: Zimbabwe

  1. Project duration

Project started: February 2008
Project finished (if applicable): September 2012

  1. Contact information

Name of contact person: Leonard Unganai (Ph.D)
Name of organisation: UNDP/GEF: Coping with Drought and Climate Change
Detailed address: Environmental Management Agency, Makombe Complex, Harare St/Cnr Herbert Chitepo, Harare
Phone: +263-4-705673
Fax: +263-4-793123
e-Mail: cwd@ecoweb.co.zwlunganai@yahoo.com
Website: Being Developed
Website of your project (if different):            –

  1. Summary of practice

This five year project seeks to develop and pilot a range of long-term adaptation measures in the agriculture sector to reduce the vulnerability of small-holder farmers and pastoralists in rural Zimbabwe to current and future climate change related shocks. The goal of this project is to enhance the capacity of agricultural and pastoral systems in Zimbabwe to adapt to climate variability and change.

The primary focus of the project is Chiredzi District in Masvingo province. The project has been designed around three main components to address barriers hampering long-term adaptation to climate change in the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe with special reference to agro-pastoralists in the semi-arid regions of the country.

The components are:

(i). Developing capacity of national institutions to improve knowledge base to facilitate climate change adaptation,

(ii) Pilot demonstration of policy oriented climate change adaptation practices, and

(iii), Building capacity to effectively use climate early warning systems.

The Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ), through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management, and the UNDP oversee the implementation of the project. The project will add impetus to Zimbabwe’s efforts to attain the UN Millennium Development Goals, particularly the goals on eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, promotion of gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.

  1. Context/Approach description

Chiredzi District is located in a semi arid part of Zimbabwe, extending over an aggregate area of 1.71 million hectares, in the south eastern extremity of the country. The District experiences low rainfall and within-season rainfall variability is high. Thus, rainfall pattern limits production of dryland crops.

When considering the economic situation and livelihoods of the inhabitants of communal areas as well as the state of infrastructure in these communal areas, this district is regarded as one of the poorest districts in the country. It however, encompasses a wide diversity of land uses; that is, Parks and Wildlife Estate such as the Gonarezhou National Park, the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and private ranches like the Save Valley Conservancy, large-scale commercial irrigation estates such as Hippo Valley, Triangle and Mukwasine, communal lands, and small-scale commercial farm land and resettlement areas.

Over the years, crop production reports data from the Department of Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services showed that large areas are cultivated for crop production but very low yields are achieved in all communal areas. Further, the amount of crops produced is inadequate to meet food requirements (Socioeconomic Report, 2008). Chiredzi District is, however, well endowed with fertile soils formed on gneisses and basalts. It is not possible to take full advantage of these soils for dry-land farming because of the low rainfall. However, these soils are highly suited to irrigation and form the basis of the successful irrigated sugarcane estates of Triangle, Hippo Valley and Mkwasine.

  1. Community involvement

The conceptual framework above summarises how the project has involved communities. The project is using a mix of approaches in framing adaptation practices to pilot depending on the context. However, the vulnerability reduction approach dominates. The involved community participated in risk and vulnerability assessments and pre-selection of adaptive strategies. A few selected vulnerable households are participating in the implementation of pilot demonstration projects with support from the project and project partners in the district.

  1. Results & Lessons learned

9.1  Results

  1. Ten Organisations representing government, Non-Governmental Organisations, Research and Academia, and private sector have been trained in interpretation and use of climate change data. Academic institution has in turn been training a number of post graduate students using the new skill and data acquired through project.
  2. Downscaled climate change data for the project area have been produced and widely disseminated, and sensitivity analyses for maize. Sorghum, cotton, cattle and goats have been carried out for project area.
  3. Ninety two farmers (50% women) have participated in pilot projects to enhance rainfed crop production using various soil moisture conservation techniques, crop types and varieties as adaptive strategies.
  4. 28 farmers comprising nineteen men and nine women have started captive crocodile breeding as an adaptive strategy diversifying from rainfed agriculture.
  5. 58 farmers comprising about 20 women and 38 men are receiving support to start aquaculture as an adaptive strategy.
  6. About 120 households have received support for Natural Resources Management as an adaptive strategy.
  7. About four village level agrometeorological observatories are being established to support climate risk management under a changing climate. These sites will also assist in raising local awareness on the nature of climate changes taking place.
  8. Various knowledge products being produced to influence policy, development, research and other farmers

Main benefits to the project beneficiaries include:

  • Improved crop yields (reduced rate of crop failure)
  • Improved income ( from sale of surplus yield, fish, wildlife hunting, crocodile sales)
  • Improved nutrition
  • Reduced vulnerability to drought
  1. 2 Critical Success Factors

The factors that explained the success of the Project related to its adequate and appropriate contextualisation, conceptualisation and implementation. Contextualisation was in terms of a) the bio-physical environment which sets the lower and upper performance limits for agricultural and wildlife production, b) the socio-cultural context which, in conjunction with technical adequacy of interventions, determines whether people adopt the proposed interventions, c) the economic environment that influences the commercial and financial viability of the interventions, and d) political situation that determines to what degree the projects could be implemented practically. In more specific terms successful contextualisation of the project was achieved through:

  • Choice of Chiredzi district as the pilot study area, which by and large is representative of semi-arid areas in the country;
  • A comprehensive assessment of the challenges that confronted agriculture-based livelihoods relating to  the hostile semi-arid climatic conditions,  social, economic and political situation in the area and country at large, poor agricultural production practices,  neglect of other livelihoods options such as wildlife farming, and weak  institutions; all of which resulted in increased poverty levels as captured during  consultations with farmers; and
  • Taking advantage of the opportunities that the district offered -the district had very fertile soils which, with appropriate interventions, could boost agricultural production, as well as abundant wildlife resources, which if exploited, could significantly enhance livelihoods.

Appropriate conceptualisation of the interventions, was based on the principle of ensuring participation of all concerned parties as illustrated by:

  • Farmers being involved in defining the problem (through base line survey, focus group discussions), selecting the participating farmers, and direct involvement  in the trials;
  • Involvement of key institutions as partners such as government and quasi-government departments of Agritex, DR&SS, National Parks as well as Chiredzi Rural Council, and
  • Effective community mobilisation through, among other things, ensuring the .buy-in of community leadership.

The appropriate contextualisation and conceptualisation efforts were buttressed by a good |implementation regime that sought to ensure:

  • Adequate representation of the households found in the project area;
  • Making the critical resources available such as seed being available  at the opportune time;
  • Adequate backstopping through the involvement of local extension staff and the Project Management,  and
  • Use of technical expertise found in the country to ensure well concepetualised projects, and consistent monitoring of projects by the Project Management.

6.3. Transferability 

There are number of elements of this project that can be replicated. The approach used to identify adaptive strategies for piloting can be replicated. Some of the practices being piloted in the project site can also be replicated in other communities.


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