español   français   english   português

dph participa da coredem

diálogos, propuestas, historias para uma cidadania mundial

Agricultural Project in Zimbabwe: Food security through adoption of more drought-resistant plants


Simon Stückelberger, Marion Künzler


Climate change and disasters threaten the livelihood of poor people in particular. Often, the population in developing countries does not have the means to protect itself against the increasing climate and disaster risks. This also puts the outcome of the long-standing development cooperation at risk. On the other hand, the project work strengthens the adaptability to climate and disaster risks. Hence, Bread for All and HEKS integrate both topics using the specifically developed Climate Proofing Tool in their development work. The attained findings serve as a basis for appropriate project adaptations. The data for the analysis is compiled in workshops with the project beneficiaries, while projects are adequately adjusted. The southern partner’s project staff is trained in the knowledge base as well as the application of the instrument.

Zimbabwe – The Former Breadbasket for Africa

Once the breadbasket for Africa, Zimbabwe is now one of the poorest countries in the world. Misgovernment and arbitrary redistribution of land by the government have caused rising social tensions and penury, between 1990 and 2003 the poverty rate rose from 25 to 63 percent. Instead of investing in the country and its people, the government prevents social, political and economic development. Over 80 percent of Zimbabweans live on less than two US dollars a day. Also, over 80 percent of the population lives mainly off of agriculture.

Climate change exacerbates the precarious situation in Zimbabwe. Over the last decades, the temperatures have risen, the annual precipitation rate has declined and extreme weather conditions, such as droughts or floods have increased.

Agricultural Project in Matabeleland Province

The area of the analyzed Heks-Project is located south of Bulawayo, in Matabeleland Province, a very dry savanna. The project aim is the improvement of the population’s food security and standard of living through sustainable agriculture. The line of action includes:

  • Advancement of biological agriculture through vegetable and herb gardens

  • Income diversification through bee keeping as well as goat and poultry keeping

  • Sensitization to HIV/Aids and to gender and environmental topics

  • Construction of a local marketing center for the sale of market products, such as vegetables and honey.

A farmer proudly shows her part of the community garden

Climate and Disaster Risk Analysis of the Project

In two workshops separated by gender, families of famers identified in various exercises regionally relevant climate and disaster risks, their effects as well as possible coping strategies. The population of the project area can directly feel the impact of climate change. “It has become difficult to predict the beginning and the end of the rainy season. We can barely plan when to prepare and till the fields”, reports a farmer.

The modified rainfall patterns make agricultural planning difficult. In addition, the population suffers from droughts that are increasing in frequency and intensity. Climate warming will aggravate the risks. Furthermore, new risks are added, which have thus far played a minor roll, such as malaria, waterborne illnesses or forest fires.

Families of farmers have established various strategies to cope with climate and disaster risks: Preventative measures such as the storage and drying of food, and reactive measures like the sale of assets, commercial sex or migration. Most strategies however, are only effective in the short term and cannot be sustained in the long run. Climate change as well as the strong dependence on water, agriculture, and cattle leaves the population vulnerable.

Project activities like income diversification or the strengthening of sustainable food production have already positively influenced the farmer families’ adaptability to climate change. On the other hand, the advancement of organic agriculture or the sensitization to deforestation effects contribute to a decrease in CO2 emissions and thus to climate protection.

Nevertheless, more must be done to guarantee food security in the light of future climate change. Among other things, the discussion included the advancement of drought-resistant plants and a selective pasture management while sensitizing to climate change at the same time. Heks adapted the project based on the locally conducted analysis. Measures for strengthening the adaptability of the population gained more importance. Capital from the climate fund of Bread for All and Fastenopfer support the project.

Training in Bulawayo

The training, which Bread for All and Heks financed, took place in October 2010 in Bulawayo. Participants included Zimbabwean and South African partner organizations of Heks, Fastenopfer and Bread for All. International and local experts conveyed basic knowledge on climate change and disasters, their effects and how to cope with the change. Participants learned the practical application of the Climate Proofing Tool in several group exercises, in order to later perform independent project analyses. During a one-day visit of the agricultural research institute near Bulawayo, participants gained ideas on how to cope with droughts, including selective water management as well as the increasing usage of drought tolerant types of livestock and crop such as cattle, goats, millet and cassava.

During the training it became evident that in addition to the difficult political situation, the local staff is struggling with climate change as a new challenge. “We are already confronted with climate change but our government has no appropriate answer,” explains a participant. Nevertheless, participants strive to find a solution even without a political frame. Their hope and future depends on the creative adaptation to climate change. The newly acquired training knowledge is helping them in the process.

Based on the analysis, Heks included the topic of climate explicitly into the country program for Zimbabwe and added a climate and water component. At the same time, the cooperation with other institutions in the area of climate is aspired. A partner of Fastenopfer in South Africa adapted his project activities by educating other partners in the handling of the Tool.

A group of men draws a climate hazard map for Matobo District.


segurança alimentar, agricultura orgânica, diversificação dos recursos, comercialização de produtos agrícolas e alimentares, mudança climática

, Zimbabwe


Tackling Climate and Disaster Risks in Development Cooperation


This article is available in french Projet agricole au Zimbabwe : Sécurité alimentaire par l’adoption de céréales plus résistantes à la sécheresse

“Chameleons adapt to their surroundings and the same is now true for humans due to climate change.” Kuda Muhokwani, training participant


For further information: Marion Künzler / Bread for all, In charge of the « Climate » workshops:

Pain pour le prochain (PPP) - Service des Eglises protestantes de Suisse pour le développement, Av. du Grammont 9, CH-1007 Lausanne, SUISSE - Tél. : 021 614 77 17 - Fax : 021 617 51 75 - Suíça - - ppp (@)

menções legais