Climate change is wrecking agricultural production in Africa and most parts of the world. Production worth more than $45 billion is at risk and subsistence is threatened due to crop failures and losses driven by rising temperatures, increasingly erratic rainfall, frequent weather extremes, and pest outbreaks. Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the scientific community point to the globally disastrous yet worsening outcomes of this change (such as food scarcity, natural disasters, death, conflicts, and stagnated economic growth). Amid this global crisis, the adaptation capacities of farmers and agricultural enterprises remain weak, underlying the necessity of governments in Africa to collaborate and strategize a course of local climate action.
The Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Analysis Network (FANRPAN) in collaboration with its Zimbabwe Country Node Hosting Institution, the Agriculture Research Council (ARC) have partnered with CARE International to implement activities under the Takunda Program, along with partners that include the International Youth Foundation (IYF), FHI360, National Action Zimbabwe (NAZ), Bulawayo Projects Centre, Environment Africa, and ICRISAT. The USAID-funded Takunda is a five-year program focused on promoting sustainable, equitable, and resilient food, nutrition, and income, for the extremely poor, chronically vulnerable, and those at risk of malnutrition. The program is being implemented in Chivi and Zaka districts of Masvingo province, and Mutare and Buhera districts of Manicaland Province. The Takunda Program was officially launched on the 15th of February 2023, at the Cresta Lodge Hotel, in Harare, Zimbabwe, and was attended by over 70 participants that included representatives of government departments, funding partners, researchers, private sector, civil society organizations, farmers, and the media.
The launch event provided a unique opportunity for Zimbabwean stakeholders to discuss pathways to improve the enabling environment for the adoption and up-scaling of key approaches that the program is implementing. In her introductory remarks, Dr. Unesu H. Ushewokunze-Obatolu, the Chairperson of ARC, underlined the value of partnerships behind initiatives that bring about positive change, and particularly those that complemented already-existing government programs. “I am excited to see that the government is represented here at very senior levels. This shows that the issues that the Takunda program is dealing with, are important to our policymakers,” she said.
The program seeks to build the resilience of low-income people who may be chronically affected by climatic and economic shocks by working to achieve sustainable and equitable income from agriculture production; improving off- and non-farm livelihoods, and creating more opportunities for income-generating activities. Target population groups include vulnerable adult women and men, adolescent mothers, male and female youth (aged 18-35), women of the reproductive age group, and children under five years, who are made vulnerable by socio-economic challenges, the impacts of climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
To achieve the program’s goal, Takunda works to address the following:
- Purpose 1 - increasing incomes from on-farm, off-farm, and non-farm livelihoods activities;
- Purpose 2 - improving the nutritional status of children under five years of age, adolescent girls, and women of reproductive age, and,
- Purpose 3 - building institutional and local capacities among ultra-poor and chronically vulnerable households to cope with shocks and stressors and reduce risk.
Interwoven between the purpose areas, and embedded in all program activities are cross-cutting themes that include the mainstreaming of gender, youth, and social dynamics, social behaviour change, environmental safeguarding, community visioning, engagement, and sustainability.
From the launch event, the following interventions emerged as the key recommendations to ensure effective implementation of the Takunda project:
- Investment in skills/capacity development, involvement of women (gender integration), extension models that facilitate coverage
- Government strategy (Pfumvudza) on climate proof agricultural practices like dam rehabilitation/construction, promotion of traditional grains, agro-ecological based production system, and more policy analysis
- Government is welcome to any approach that enhances production/productivity that will be designed from the Takunda Project
- Development/strengthening of pathways for policy engagement towards the adoption and upscaling of approaches.
- Policy analysis/regulation such as the involvement of private sector players; access to livestock drugs; criteria on paravet selection; farmer field schools.
- Need to appreciate different robust policies and connecting them to the approaches and strategies that Takunda are working on/proposing for adoption.
Stakeholder Sensitization Workshop – Takunda Resilience Food Security Activity
15 February 2023 Harare, Zimbabwe