The proposed project “Supporting Women’s Action in Addressing Land Degradation and Income Generation in Mfiri Village” will be implemented in Mfiri village in ward 5 of Tongogara RDC. The village has a total of 123 households which are all smallholders who depend on subsistence farming. The project has a total of 73 beneficiaries consisting of 54 adult women household heads and 19 youth (10 males and 9 females).
The main problem to be addressed is land degradation which is in line with GEF SGP OP6 Zimbabwe country strategy. The community’s settlement, infrastructure, pastures and farms are under threat from encroaching gullies, deforestation and soil erosion which has resulted in approximately 70% bareness in terms of land cover. Veldt fires and deforestation as a result of fencing of gardens and firewood collection has contributed significantly to the bareness of the area. Siltation of water bodies including the life supporting Mfiri dam has resulted in the community’s failure to cope with drought induced by climate variability. The community falls under Natural Region IV which is characterized by low erratic rainfall patterns ranging from 450 – 600mm per year and these are subject to frequent seasonal droughts. The community’s vegetation is mainly dry deciduous miombo woodlands dominated by brachystegia spiciformis and julberndia globiflora. The grass species dominant in the project area include hyparrhenia species, eragrostis species and heteropogon species. The tree and grass species are characteristics of arid and semi-arid climatic conditions and they need proper conservation practices to maintain their biomass.
The project will reclaim gullies and conserve a total of 6 hectares catchment area affected by major gullies. Development of tree nurseries with 15,000 plants and community woodlots will reduce deforestation in the community. A total of 7 different indigenous species including mukamba, mutohwe, mupfura, munyii, musasa, muzhumwi and muchakata will be conserved in woodlots for fuel provision and maintaining forestry ecosystems. Construction of 2 sand traps will be done to reduce siltation of Mfiri dam and improve water harvesting and storage for use to support livestock and garden activities in this dry region.
Women’s enterprises and livelihoods in Mfiri village are highly depended on the extraction of natural resources. The project will promote sustainable utilization of forestry products by 54 women through training them on craftwork and making use of the introduced vetivar grass and reeds for conservation to make baskets, mats and bowls. Since there is a marked reduction in livestock ownership by women, the project will introduce 219 indigenous poultry (3 per beneficiary) and savings clubs for women to improve livelihoods and develop economic opportunities and enable them to move out of poverty.
The project will promote sustainable harvesting and value addition of natural products and increase utilization and market opportunities. The project will conduct a participatory inventory of natural products, value addition training, solar dryers, market fairs, entrepreneurship training and construction of 3 roadside market stalls to increase community participation in sustainable utilization / conservation of forestry products.