The United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) last week unveiled a £21,5 million pounds grant to the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) to enhance the capacities of vulnerable rural communities to withstand shocks and stresses. This was expected to reduce their need for humanitarian responses and lead to an improvement in their well-being.
Speaking at the ceremony signing ceremony at the DFID offices in Harare on Friday last week, the head of DFID in Zimbabwe Ms Annabel Gerry said the fund provided a unique opportunity to beef up the resilience building agenda in Zimbabwe.
“Over 120 000 people have received support to cope with the effect of climate change through various interventions and ZRBF gives us a unique opportunity to push forward the resilience building agenda in Zimbabwe.
“Climate change is already evident here- this year we have been experiencing hotter days and higher frequency of dry spells during this rainy season. Without adapting- poverty, food security, malnutrition and environmental degradation will continue to be serious challenges in Zimbabwe, particularly in rural areas,” she said.
UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative, Mr Bishow Parajuli thanked DFID for the generous contribution and noted that it would enable the fund to reach communities leading in extreme poverty and high levels of food insecurity because of negative effects of climate change.
“Through the ZRBF some 830 000 labour endowed vulnerable people in 18 rural districts are targeted with climate-smart agriculture, nutrition and livelihoods, productive assert creation, access of finance and value chain development, and community based natural resources management interventions,” said Mr Parajuli.
The permanent secretary to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Settlement, Mr Ringson Chitsiko also expressed gratitude to DFID for the financial support to the ZRBF.
“The ZRBF is consistent with the Government’s climate change policies and strategies and national development priorities,” he said. He said the latest grant was DFID’s second contribution which brings its total contribution to ZRBF to £25 million.
Ms Gerry said apart from climate related issues the fund had a converged focus that also looks at linking smallholder farmers to markets and the DFID’s Economic Development Strategy.
The ZRBF specifically targets women and aims to tackle gender inequality. Of the 830 000 beneficiaries targeted, at least 25 percent of the direct beneficiaries are from female-headed households.
DFID helps marginalised groups, including people with disabilities with strategic sectors such as water and energy through the promotion of good solar technologies of pumping water for agriculture production and domestic use.
The new contribution would result in the extension of ZRBF program to Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Mutoko and Mudzi districts within the duration of the programme, which is expected to run until 2021.
Representatives of communities implementing the fund’s resilience projects in Mwenezi Mr Solomon Mutambara and Veronica Muchechetere said the assistance from the fund had significantly strengthened their communities’ ability to withstand shocks during last year’s floods and the ensuing drought this year.
The fund was launched in May 2016, with financial and technical support from the European Union, DFID, Sweden and UNDP and has a total budget of $75 million during its lifetime.–herald