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Project to Help Irrigate Farms Near Zimbabwe's Rivers

Several rivers pass from Zimbabwe's lush Eastern highlands through the lowlands of drought-hit Chipinge, Mutare and Chimanimani districts. But while river water is plentiful, hard-up farmers have no way to get enough of it to their fields.

"We did not harvest anything in the past two seasons," said Amon Vhumbu, the traditional leader of a small, isolated village in Chipinge district, where many fields have been left barren by drought, despite a river flowing nearby.

"As you can see, without irrigation our hopes of a good crop yield have now become unrealistic," he said.

But a project to build dams and irrigation systems to bring water to parched fields is set to help – and could protect at least some families against the more frequent droughts climate change is bringing in southern Africa.

The Enhancing Nutrition, Stepping Up Resilience and Enterprise (ENSURE) programme, a $55 million effort led by charity World Vision and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), aims to address some of the causes underlying chronic food security and malnutrition in Zimbabwe’s Manicaland and Masvingo provinces, where stunting rates among children are 34 and 31 per cent respectively.

Andrew Ashton

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