The British ambassador to Zimbabwe, Deborah Bronnert, says it is important for a developing nation like Zimbabwe to prioritise gender equality so as to achieve equitable development.
Speaking at the handover of the Gwemombe Women Wetlands Conservation and Market Gardening Project in Chikato communal area in Shurugwi, Ambassador Bronnert said Britain is happy that Zimbabwe's new constitution recognizes the importance of gender equality.
The ambassador said although she acknowledges government's efforts, a lot still needs to be done in implementing some provisions of the new constitution through enacting relevant laws so that gender equity is achieved.
The British Embassy gave the market gardeners $15,000, which was disbursed by Shurugwi Partners, a local non-governmental organization.
Under the project, 31 women were taught how to grow and market vegetables as well as reclaiming and concserving wetlands while also getting seed and implements for their garden.
The garden, which covers an area of 1.6 hectares, currently has a variety of green vegetables including peas.
Loveness Muhwandavaka, the chairperson of the cooperative, told Studio Seven members are happy with the assistance that they have received.
Muhwandaka said, “We are very happy because there is now a fence around the garden which means that our crops are no longer vulnerable to livestock. Our garden is big and we are now able to grow more vegetables. The cooperative also helps foster the spirit of togetherness among us. We have orphans and the elderly in our cooperative and we help them whenever there is need.”
Besides gardening, the cooperative members were taught about bee-keeping. Cooperative member, Chamunorwa Chinyongo, said bee-keeping complements the gardening project in that if for some reason their crops fail, they can get income from selling honey.
Members of the cooperative have also constructed a weir on the nearby Gwemombe River. Another cooperative member, Grace Tshuma, said the construction of the low dam enables the farmers to get water throughout most of the year.
Tshuma said, “We used to have problems of water shortages especially during the dry months like October. Our vegetables used to fail as a result. The construction of the weir will make our lives easier. We look forward to improving our yields and expect to get a good market for our produce.”
Shurugwi South House of Assembly member, Tapiwa Matangaidze, who also attended the handover ceremony, thanked the British Embassy for the assistance adding that such help empowers ordinary people to look after themselves.