By Edward Mukaro
IRRIGATION Schemes (ISs) continue to fail in their objective to contribute towards food security and nutrition due to conflicts triggered by a lack of knowledge and skills in financial management, the Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation (CCMT) has said.
Irrigation schemes have been identified as one of the key zones with the potential to improve the country’s food security, hence, their functional state needs to be above board for the country to benefit.
Speaking in an interview with The BusinessConnect, CCMT project coordinator Xavier Mudangwe said in order to get IRs fully functional to their potential farmers needed training on management of funds as most conflicts in ISs are triggered around financial issues, which then leads to other members having mistrust and consequently, production levels dwindle.
“As CCMT, one of our major concerns is conflict triggered by the lack of financial management. It creates a fertile ground for conflict because whenever we have a situation of when someone feels that someone is misusing funds, definitely that triggers problems. It triggers tension and a lot of mistrust.
“Also as part of our project of trying to strengthen cohesion within irrigation schemes one of the areas we thought would be important was the issue of financial management as it will help in enhancing the management of funds.
“It would then reduce the potential of clashes within farmers over issues to do with finances,” said Mudangwe.
CCMT recently held training for ISs in the Midlands Province, which was attended by representatives from 16 different IRs in the province, auditors, from Rural Development Councils’ finance departments, accountants from the Department of Irrigation and Agritex officers.
Mudangwe added that “Farmers usually clash on issues to do with utilisation of funds, lack of transparency, for example, in terms of what was paid, how much the scheme was paid on a particular period, maybe, say a year.
“If those issues are not clear it becomes pointless for farmers to contribute as expected towards payment of bills. If it becomes unclear some farmers then withdraw and stop contributing as expected.”
Meanwhile, the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) successful launched the Global Climate Fund (GCF) project that will also see the rehabilitation of IRs, while six more IRs are set to be commissioned under the project.
The GCF project will be implemented in three Provinces namely Masvingo, Manicaland and Matabeleland over a 7-year period.
By Edward Mukaro