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Amid NGO Ban, U.S.-Funded Garden Project Sustains Zimbabwe Families

  • Taurai Shava

Chairwoman Eunice Chipunza of the Takaza Garden Project told VOA that the cooperative, established in 1997, is going a long way in improving the livelihoods of its members

United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray has slammed the banning of non-governmental organizations in Masvingo province saying the move will affect hundreds of families that rely on assistance from the organizations for daily survival.

Addressing reporters after visiting a U.S.-funded fresh vegetable and fruit garden project in Shurugwi district, ambassador Ray said the decision by provincial governor, Titus Maluleke outlawing 29 NGO's operating in the area was regrettable.

He paid tribute to local women for setting a good example for the younger generation by running income generation projects, which enabled them to pay school fees for their children and grandchildren.

“I would like to congratulate you on what I have seen here today," the ambassador said. "I am really happy to be here to celebrate women, especially mothers and grandmothers, who have worked so hard to build this.”

He said it did not make sense for government to block humanitarian organizations that are assisting the needy.

"Access to water, health care, access to markets are issues that are holding a lot of the rural areas back," said Ray. "Personally, I think we should all, the donor community and the government alike, work together to do what we can."

Chairwoman Eunice Chipunza of the Takaza Garden Project told VOA that the cooperative, established in 1997 is going a long way in improving the livelihoods of its members.

"We included orphans to help them look after themselves," said Zvitambo. "The proceeds they get from selling their produce help them pay school fees and take care of other daily needs."

She said through the gardening project, she has been able to partner her husband in taking care of the family

In 2010 the U.S. Embassy, through its small grants program, gave the cooperative garden tools valued at $7,500. Ambassador Ray pledged continued support for the scheme.

The cooperative has 67 members, supporting over 360 families, project secretary Rosie Zvitambo said, adding that among the members are orphans and elderly women.

The four hectare garden has a variety of crops, including cassava and sweet potatoes. To help boost production, the cooperative says it wishes to utilize a nearby river for irrigation purposes, funds permitting.

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