People, animals compete for wild fruit

Donkeys have gathered under Muhacha tree to eat the wild fruit which had fallen the previous night. They are quickly chased away by a group of young children, who then gather the fruit, which has become their major food source in Lower Muzarabani District. Even unripe fruit are not spared as children are desperate to put something in their stomachs.

“I do not know where our next meal will come from. People are starving here, we faced drought this year and floods destroyed our crops and our children are starving,” said Garikai Katsere, father of six.

A teacher at Hoya Primary School said the situation was dire as many children had dropped out of school.

“Children can not learn with empty stomachs. I used to boil maize with lots of salt and give them but now I am running out of grain. Most children have already stopped coming to school as hunger continues to ravage the area,” said the teacher.

A villager, Tendai Gatsi, said many people were forced to sell their livestock for survival and people who buy the beasts are taking advantage of their situation.

“We are forced to sell our livestock so that we can put food on the table. People come from as far as Harare to buy our livestock, sometimes at a very cheap price.

A snap survey showed that most people are selling their goats for as little as $5 and cattle for $80. Lower Muzarabani lies in region four and experiences perennial droughts and flooding.

Because of the AIDS pandemic, child-headed families are numerous and have not been spared from hunger. A family of six headed by a 15-year-old boy said unless well-wishers chip in to help them, they will die from starvation.

“Our parents sold everything they had when they were seeking medication and when they died they left nothing to us. We do not have any animals to sell and only God knows how we are surviving,” said the boy.

Muzarabani North Member of Parliament, Luke Mushore, recently described the situation as dire and appealed for assistance.

Speaking at a rally recently Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said that the government knows that there was drought in most rural areas and assured villagers that people will not die of hunger.

“No one will die of hunger. We will ensure as a government that grain will be made available to you here in the rural areas. Government has since rolled out several plans to mitigate this drought and there will be enough food for everyone,” said Tsvangirai.

He added that government needs to subsidise subsistence farmers to acquire inputs before the agricultural season commences, as a long-term solution to food shortages.

The people of Muzarabani are waiting anxiously for if the government will fulfil its promises.

Post published in: News

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