AACES – Shared Futures Project
The AACES – Shared Futures Project is being implemented in five selected wards of Mutoko District, focusing on three main interventions which are Food Security, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Maternal Child Health (MCH) with Policy and Advocacy and cross cutting issues of Gender, DRR and disability inclusiveness. The primary objective of the project is to achieve measurable improvements to the sustainable livelihoods and well-being of 3,000 vulnerable households in 30 communities in Eastern Zimbabwe (Mashonaland East). The principal focus of the project is to build on existing capacities and strengths through a strength-based approach and to support decentralization processes by increasing opportunities for marginalized people to advocate for the services they require. This year, our major thrust was on sustainability of all AACES – SFP assets to ensure continuity and ownership.
Maternal Child Health
There has been an improvement in the maternal sector services received by the target community. Key attributions being the projects support on the construction Maternal Waiting Homes (MWH). To date 3 homes are being utilized by the community at Kapondoro, Kawere and Makosa clinics of which Kapondoro was completed early in 2014. The project constructed maternal waiting homes as a way to bridge the geographic gap between the home and the health centre, as well as addressing PMTCT issues such as drug adherence in the case of HIV positive pregnant mothers and constant check-up of pregnant mothers. This year 2015, 160 women have utilised the MWHs and it was noted through the experience of the medical personnel at the three clinics, that it was easier for the nurses to monitor foetal progress and early detection of pregnancy related complications when the mothers were in the MWH.
The project carried out a number of men’s dialogue sessions in 5 operational wards with men as the major decision makers in households. The aim of the sessions was to encourage men to spearhead exclusive breastfeeding (in the HIV/AIDS context) up to the age of six months for the benefit of both mother and infant. The sessions were also promoting locally available foodstuffs for nourishment for the households and the use of MWH. A total of 191 males attended the sessions.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Key success of the project in the WASH sector in Mutoko has been the rehabilitation of non-functional water points and reviving water point committees. To date 20 807 individuals (10 957 females & 9 850 males) have access to portal water from 73 rehabilitated bush pumps, 1 solar driven pump and 1 electrical driven pump. The project has trained 75 water point committees (525 members) on sustainability of water points and were introduced to key service provision offices, such as the District Development Fund (DDF) for continued interaction and for purposes of receiving back-up technical water point management support.
The project used School Health Clubs (SHC) as a vehicle to disseminate health and hygiene messages in 10 schools. This is being done at schools where we constructed disability friendly latrines. The project extended support and strengthened school health clubs through health and hygiene education sessions to the teachers in collaboration with MoHCC. Teachers disseminate information to the SHC members and SHC members would in turn spread the information to other school children and their parents through dramas, poems, songs and clean up campaigns at schools.
Household Food Security- ANCP Support
The project has piloted innovative technologies since project inception, for purposes of increasing on farm productivity and enhancing household food security. Mechanized conservation agriculture, solar driven pump for irrigation, the Farmer Field School (FFS) extension methodology and post-harvest storage structures (granaries) were the major technologies introduced. All the technologies have been accepted by the Ministry of Agriculture through Agritex, as a key technology in improving crop yields. Agritex phoned CTDO enquiring on contacts for the solar pump supplier and have since introduced their own FFS, this is a sign that the technologies are being adopted.
The project worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture extension officers to extend technical support to 35 existing FFS and nutrition gardens. The strategy to carry out the task using a collaborative approach was employed so as to strengthen the capacity of extension officers as well as to instil continuity post the AACES – SFP.
The project piloted Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) as a strategy for information dissemination of market updates such as prices for produce, potential buyers, and updates on best-selling crops as well as upcoming agricultural fairs or events. This was done at small scale and focused on 220 farmers (10 livestock & 210 crop farmers). The 10 livestock farmers are into supplementary feeding (pen fattening) and 210 farmers are into butternut production.
The project has piloted peanut butter production with 1 group. The group was selected based on the group maturity index rating. The group maturity index tool was administered to the 10 VS&L groups and the best performing group was selected. The project has supported existing Income Generating Activities (IGA) (piggery and broiler production) through provision of technical backstopping and market linkages.
One major lesson during the implementation of the AACES project was that sustainability and efficiency can be fostered through mapping and leveraging on existing community competencies and resources. The project worked with different communities and managed to leverage on existing competencies such as labour and farming skills. This enhanced expanded community involvement and ownership of the interventions by beneficiary communities.