Sustainable Livelihoods in Zimbabwe: A Community Garden

Posted on December 19, 2014 by Ashley Debilzen
Allison Beebe

​In Burure, Zimbabwe, there are over 30 sustainable livelihoods projects underway, all with the hope of reducing malaria’s impact in the region. One way to fight malaria is to lessen the burden of poverty on families who are stricken with it. Families with regular income can afford medication, hospital visits, and other malaria interventions.

One of these projects is a large community garden. The garden began with a grant from the Lutheran malaria program in Zimbabwe. There are 68 people who will be participating in this large gardening project (26 men, 42 women). The garden is in the early stages. It covers about 2 acres of land, and is surrounded by a high fence to keep animals out. It was plotted near a natural spring, which is one of the few fresh water sources in the area.

Zim Garden 1

Photo: Some members of the community garden sit near the fence that surrounds the land.

The garden rows are all marked out, and the members are prepared to plant for the rainy season. The garden is very precisely organized and each person has their own section for which they are responsible. A variety of crops will be grown in the garden, but an emphasis will be on corn. Corn is a staple in the region, and the staple dish in the region, sadza, is made from cornmeal.

Zim Garden 2

Photo: Malaria Field Office Kelton Ncube (far right) introduces the leaders of the community garden project. 

The participants also have a work rotation. One member works in the community garden while the others tend to their own crops at home. Many members of the community garden project are also farmers of their own land, so this schedule allows them to work in the garden while still keeping up with their own personal farming obligations. While this is a project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, an agricultural extension officer is working with the group, making sure that they are well-educated on best practices in gardening.

Zim Garden 3

Photo: The community garden members outside of the garden. 

In addition to providing food and income to the community, the garden members are also encouraging good hygiene practices. A toilet was constructed near the garden as an example to the community in good sanitation habits. Keeping latrines and toilets covered and sanitary is one way to reduce mosquito breeding grounds, and consequently reduce malaria.

By helping to contain malaria and promoting healthy habits, projects like this community garden make a life-saving difference in communities like Burure!