Hwange food in­se­cu­rity af­fects women most

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

EDI­TOR — Food is a ba­sic hu­man need. The right to food is fun­da­men­tal and with­out it many other hu­man needs can­not be en­joyed. How­ever, the avail­abil­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of food in the de­sired qual­ity and quan­tity in a year re­mains a pipe-dream to some peo­ple around Hwange. There is se­vere food in­se­cu­rity in the Hwange Dis­trict and this ad­versely af­fects women’s liveli­hoods in this part of the coun­try.

Hwange Dis­trict lies in the nat­u­ral agri­cul­tural Re­gion Five which is prone to drought. Rain­fall pat­terns are er­ratic while soils are poor to sup­port crop farm­ing. There is no tech­nol­ogy to fa­cil­i­tate cop­ing and adap­ta­tion hence poor har­vests. Poor farm­ing meth­ods and eroded liveli­hoods have af­fected the dis­trict. The re­gion has fewer in­dus­tries to cre­ate em­ploy­ment as a re­sult there is al­ways highly pro­nounced food in­se­cu­rity.

Quite a good num­ber of women are not for­mally em­ployed and a few who are work­ing are en­gaged by tourism and min­ing com­pa­nies where they are me­nially paid or not paid at all. The se­vere food scarcity in the dis­trict has given rise to women pa­tro­n­is­ing tourist at­trac­tion cen­tres and truck stops for pur­poses of so­lic­it­ing for food. Due to food in­se­cu­rity in the dis­trict, a lot of women are prac­tis­ing pros­ti­tu­tion which re­sults in the in­cur­able dis­eases such as HIV/Aids, among oth­ers.

Women are marginalised and are not af­forded op­por­tu­ni­ties to per­form in­come gen­er­at­ing projects and jobs. Tra­di­tion­ally, women have been en­gag­ing in do­mes­tic chores such as farm­ing. As if this is not enough, the harsher eco­nomic cli­mate has seen a mas­sive ex­o­dus of men who were tra­di­tion­ally bread­win­ners to for­eign coun­tries. Some of these men never re­mit what they earn back home con­tribut­ing to mas­sive food in­se­cu­rity in the dis­trict thereby neg­a­tively af­fect­ing women.

Hwange Dis­trict is home to many wild an­i­mals be­cause of the game parks and game re­serves nearby. There are a lot of ma­raud­ing ele­phants in the dis­trict wreak­ing havoc on res­i­dents’ crops con­tribut­ing to poor har­vests. The prob­lem an­i­mals de­stroy crops be­fore and af­ter ma­tu­rity ad­versely af­fect­ing har­vest in ar­eas such as Jam­bezi, Dete, Matetsi and Chi­dobe com­mu­nal lands.

Food in­se­cu­rity in most coun­tries of South­ern Africa is chiefly due to cli­mate change, lim­ited ir­ri­ga­tion, famine, poor in­fra­struc­ture, poverty, among other causes. It is an up­hill task for women in this part of the coun­try to cope with and re­cover from shocks and stress associated with food in­se­cu­rity.

I aver that the lim­ited job op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able in the dis­trict, should be of­fered at a pro­por­tional scale of women to men with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion. Gen­der per­tains to both men and women and the gap be­tween men and women should be nar­rowed when there are devel­op­men­tal projects as en­shrined in the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs). Gen­der equal­ity means equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­alise po­ten­tial to con­trib­ute and to ben­e­fit equal treat­ment. Women in most in­stances are side­lined in devel­op­ment is­sues hence rel­e­gat­ing them to poverty in com­mu­ni­ties. Lack of vi­tal in­for­ma­tion, lim­ited ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and lack of ex­po­sure to ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nol­ogy in­ca­pac­i­tate women and make them more vul­ner­a­ble to food in­se­cu­rity.

Non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions wish­ing to op­er­ate in this part of the coun­try should con­sider women is­sues and cre­ate in­come-gen­er­at­ing projects for them such as ir­ri­ga­tion farm­ing, bas­ketry, in­ter alia. Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties such as tra­di­tional lead­ers, politi­cians and the Dis­trict Ad­min­is­tra­tor can be in­flu­en­tial enough in the devel­op­ment of women in the dis­trict and ease food in­se­cu­rity. Vic­tor “The Bro­ken Gas­ket” Sibanda, Vic­to­ria Falls.

A woman car­ries her child and lug­gage to a bus in Beit­bridge in this file photo

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