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Zimbabwean partner in path of cyclone

TSURO Executive Director Backson Muchini prepares to distribute emergency supplies in Chimanimani District. Photo: Eli Josef-Westermann

April 8, 2019

By Juan Camilo Suárez Colmenares

Nearly two weeks ago, Cyclone Idai’s 175 kph winds and strong rains caused mudslides and flooding in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and some regions of Malawi. The cyclone hit land in Mozambique and then battered areas of Malawi and Zimbabwe. There, in the remote and mountainous Chimanimani district, is one of PWRDF’s newest partners, TSURO Trust.

Humanitarian Coalition Cyclone Idai Joint Appeal ends April 14, give to PWRDF emergency response today

The cyclone and aftermath washed out roads, like this one on the way to Charleswood.

TSURO is located in the path of the storm and staff lost people close to them. An intern working with them died, one of the drivers lost his mother and a board member lost six siblings and their families. TSURO has already organized emergency relief responses from its headquarters.

The NGO has a strong track record in local in communities and local government and therefore is handling most of the relief work in the area, and has received supplies from international relief agencies.

Survivors in Chimanimani prepare to receive emergency items. Photos: Eli Josef-Westermann

The area received approximately 750 millimetres of rain in three days, says PWRDF External Funding Program Manager Richard Librock, who is in regularly contact with staff at TSURO. “The region was blown by strong winds sideways against north facing hills and mountains, with devastating effect. Houses were just buried by landslides with no survivors.”

Librock adds, “This climate change event has generated a lot of lessons to be learned concerning road and settlement planning, land use governance, inequality, agro-ecological practice, disaster preparedness and more.”

PWRDF and TSURO Trust working together

Chimanimani is remote and dry with mostly infertile soil; smallholder farmers practise subsistence farming. More than three quarters of the region is poor and the average household monthly income is $79. Nutrition insecurity has increased, as well as the prevalence of diseases, lack of water availability, inadequate housing and child and youth vulnerability.

According to TSURO, 11% of the population suffers from acute malnutrition and 39% of the population is food insecure, figures which are likely to increase with the recent events. Internal migration from areas that receive lower rainfall to those with higher rainfall has also increased the pressure on the availability of water resources. Women have the responsibility of collecting water and wood, and more than 40% of the households are led by single mothers, putting them at greater risk of food insecurity.

Since TSURO started working in Chimanimani District, the organization has positively affected 40,000 Zimbabweans by empowering communities with well sustained natural resources, contributing to improved healthy and food security, and promoting farmer initiatives and marketing businesses. This is achieved by working alongside traditional leaders and stakeholders who want to reduce poverty in Chimanimani.

PWRDF has partnered with TSURO Trust on a $38,000 project to improve nutrition in 100 households through Farmer Action Learning Groups and Community Health Clubs. PWRDF is contributing $30,000. The project will:

  • Help families become self-aware of their nutrition deficiencies
  • Support beneficiaries in organic food production
  • Document how nutrition security in Chimanimani influences farmers’ practices
  • Reduce the incidence of acute malnutrition
  • Provide practical approaches to nutrition security that can be replicated in larger areas

TSURO is recognized for implementing the community-driven Farmer Action Learning Group model. This innovative approach focuses on family nutrition assessments and empowers farmers to take control of their wellbeing, addressing both their farming practices and nutrition needs.

Our local partner also acknowledges the importance of addressing gender issues, so some of the workshops will look at the correlation between gender, household nutrition and conflict transformation.

PWRDF expresses its condolences to TSURO Trust staff and their families. The Canadian Government recently announced it will match donations to Cyclone Idai joint appeal of the Humanitarian Coalition made by April 14, 2019. PWRDF is accepting donations that will be channelled through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a member of the Humanitarian Coalition.

– with files from Richard Librock, PWRDF External Funding Program Manager