For Gogo Murwira the construction of Bwazi Dam is like she is building something that belongs to her personally.
“When this dam is completed,” she says of the weir which will have a holding capacity of 168 000 cubic metres of water, “it will change my life for good. Gone will be seasonal gardens, now we can do gardening throughout the year.”
Because of her conviction that the weir will change her fortunes as well as those of several other households, she is usually one of the first to arrive at the dam site, to offer herself for any duties that might be needed on the particular day.
“Sometimes we fetch stones, sometimes water, sometimes sand, the duties change as to what will be needed on that particular day. But I make sure I am here first thing in the morning. If I cannot make it, I ask my muzukuru to come and stand for me,” she further says.
Whilst on face value it might seem as if the construction of the dam is the primary motivation for her – and many others of her age – the honest truth is that the incentive at the end of the month is the most compelling factor.
Of the 420 households that were chosen to work on the weir, the Lower Guruve Development Association (LGDA), the implementing partner for the project, looked for the most food-insecure households.
“Whilst on one hand we are helping to build a community asset, on the other hand we are assisting every household to attain some level of food security,” said Douglas Karoro, the Member of Parliament for Mbire, who works closely with LGDA in the monitoring of the various projects dotted around Mbire.
Another 122 households were working on the nutritional garden and another 247 households on the Bwazi dip tank.
“The fact that we have chosen these households does not mean that they are the sole custodians of these projects, but just that they are providing the labour to the construction. Once these projects are completed, they are handed over the communities, who then decided on how best to utilise them.
“Even if a household was not involved in the construction of the dip tank, it does not mean that household will not be allowed to use the dip tank. It would be a community dip tank. Same with the dam, it is for everyone in the community of Bwazi,” explained Hon Karoro.
With a dam wall standing at three metres, the Bwazi Dam, which is projected to hold some 168 000 cubic metres of water, will provide drinking water for livestock, water for the dip tank and nutritional garden. Ms Sekai Janga, the programmes officer for LGDA, said the initial plan is to start with one hectare for the nutritional garden, though there is potential to grow to five hectares.
“One step at a time, the resources that we have at the moment are for one hectare but there is room to grow the space. We have provided the community with a 5 000-litre storage tank, its stand, a solar pump and pipes,” she said.
Explaining the concept of community-based models, Hon Karoro said they ask each community to identify assets that they feel will change their livelihoods, paying particular attention to what the community can provide in turn.
“This dam was their own decision. But they also said they wanted the dip tank to go with their dam as they were having to take their cattle long distances to dip them. So they did their own bricks, build the dip tank using builders from within their community and LGDA provided the technical back-up as well as the cement, roof material and poles.”
Ms Janga said the Bwazi dam, dip tank and nutritional garden is part of the food assistance for asset programmes that the not-for-profit organisation runs in Mbire, which has seen over 1 800 households gets food rations every month.
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