The community of Mazvihwa is located in the southeast of Zvishavane District in South-central Zimbabwe. This is an area where economically important metals like platinum, chromium, nickel, vanadium, copper, titanium, iron, and tin, can be found, which has led to different mining projects taking place since the beginning of the 20th century, including the Shabanie Asbestos Mine (which closed in 2009), the Mimosa Platinum Mine and the Murowa Diamond Mine. With the development of the mining industry, local communities have moved away from traditional indigenous agro-ecological practices, instead leaning on alternative livelihood sources through mining activities.
The development and expansion of the mining industry in a semi-arid area with less than 400mm of rainfall per year has led to detrimental deforestation and ecosystem degradation, further exacerbated by the socio-ecological and climate crises. Local communities are increasingly facing water scarcity, food insecurity and poverty. Furthermore, there is increased dependency on international aid agencies active in the area, that have focused their interventions mainly on direct food aid and assistance, instead of addressing the root causes of the social, economic and environmental problems faced by the Mazvihwa community.
The Muonde Trust Zimbabwe is a community-based organisation dedicated to fomenting locally-driven indigenous creativity and development efforts in Zvishavane District, through educational, agricultural and community extension programs, maintaining the connections between spirit, community and ecology. Together with the Centre for Nursery Development and Eru Propagation (CENDEP), the International Analog Forestry Network’s (IAFN) implementing partner in Africa with support of the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), they have been leading on different capacity strengthening trainings on Analog Forestry for women in Mazvihwa, who have been coming together to form cooperative nutritious gardens.
We invite you to watch this video of different women from the Mazvihwa Community leading on Analog Forestry: https://youtu.be/xog7wyASe0Q
Women have been growing community Analog Forestry plots for family consumption and additional income. Through these plots, they are ensuring reforestation and restoration of degraded and deforested lands. For irrigation of their small household gardens, they are engaging in water harvesting, and increasingly acquiring loans to establish solar powered irrigation systems.
These women still face many challenges, such as increased droughts and need for further financial support to continue developing their projects, however it is evident that their efforts are leading to increased awareness in Mazvihwa on the importance and benefits of forestry ecosystem restoration for the community and territory. Furthermore, these projects have also ensured that their voices, knowledge and opinion are considered in decision making processes and environmental management within the community, which had been lacking for generations. Collectively, they are working to find socially and ecologically responsible solutions, cultivating community identity and inspiring sustainability in their projects.
In support of their efforts, Muonde Trust, CENDEP and IAFN call upon the local mining industries and authorities in Zvishavane District, the government of Zimbabwe and international NGOs to recognize and respect local communities’ knowledge, experience and practices in proposing solutions for the social, environmental and economic crises being faced in the district. We also ask that support is prioritized for community driven development in Zvishavane District, Zimbabwe.