Hwange food insecurity affects women most
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