As one drives past the Juliasdale (Monte Claire hotel) up until to the Troutbeck Hotel, one captures the glimpse of the beautiful scenic vegetation of such a beautiful mountainous Eastern Highlands. But going further down the Nyanga area what could be only seen is a dry, lifeless and barren landscape. The leaves of the Msasa tree are no longer blooming. The land is virtually dry. Skulls of many dead beasts are scattered all over the land. Vultures and eagles are a common sight. The baobab tree is just standing there. The beasts are no longer fat as they used to be. I painfully, watch the cattle herders as they drive the cattle to the waterpoint.An elderly woman is fetching drinking water but I can see fresh deposits of cow dung in the water. A young newly married woman is washing dirty linen in the water. So is the school going child who is also doing her laundry.
Every villager is lamenting that the rains were very unkind. All they received were erratic rains. To make matters worse some suffered from bad timing, thus they failed to prepare their crops in time. Virtually, the villagers harvested nothing in their fields. All what they harvested were a ‘harvest of thorns’. It was a wasted effort, wasted inputs and wasted time. They are no longer growing yams in those once muddy wetlands. The wetlands have dried up. What went wrong? Christians in the village spent many sleepless nights praying for the rains. But they only waited and waited for the drops of water that never poured. Traditionalists went on to brew beer to appease the ancestors through the rain making ceremony. But all they failed to do was cloud seeding because of the lack of resources.
They all erected scare crows in the midst of their fields. What an amazing hope they have! They hoped against all odds that one day the rains will come. Every farmer looked ahead to a bumper harvest. But lady luck could not smile on them. The rains were erratic, thus their crops had to wilt. Eventually their crops dried up. The ants from the so called Anthills of Savanna also feasted undisturbed on these dying crops. It is against such a backdrop that NGOs like CADEC have come up with drought mitigation strategies like conservation farming and early planting. The farmers were made to believe that this would help in keeping in pace with the changing climatic conditions and rainfall patterns.But,it seemed all these efforts failed the farmers. After having seen such a sad scenario the question is what needs to be done before the whole village or country suffer from food insecurity,hunger,famine and attendant diseases like kwashiorkor to the young ones.
Unless we take action and sound measures drought will remain a deep challenge in our communities in this er of climate change…..