Community grinding mill success story

A grinding mill constructed by the Centre for Community Development has changed the lives of women in Gudyanga Village in Nyanyadzi.

Dadirai Kauyayi - My son is now doing form three and schools fees is being paid for by the proceeds from the grinding mill
Dadirai Kauyayi – My son is now doing form three and schools fees is being paid for by the proceeds from the grinding mill

Completed in 2012, the electric Masimba Grinding Mill has removed the burden of grinding grain by hand or travelling long distances to the nearest mill – a burden shouldered by women in the community since time immemorial. The construction site was donated by Headman Gudyanga.

The mill is run by an all-woman committee of five, who have been trained in record keeping and general business management.

“Prior to the project, women used to walk while carrying maize on their heads, or cycle approximately 10 to 15 km to the nearest grain mill to access milling facilities,” said Titus Simbanegavi, programs director for CCD.

Source of income

“The grinding mill has drastically reduced the amount of labour required to process food and has increased the time available to women for more productive activities while improving their quality of life,” he added.

The mill, which cost $5,000 to construct, has also provided a source of income for future projects.

All the proceeds realised are channelled to poor families in the village on rotational basis, mainly to pay for school fees. Households can also borrow money from the committee and repay with interest.

“Nearly 1,000 villagers are benefiting from this grinding mill. To ensure the mill is properly maintained we have helped train the local committee now responsible for managing it,” said Simbanegavi. “Good management has been a key to the success of this project. We established a monitoring and evaluation system for committee members to monitor their own progress.”

Good condition

“Before joining this project, we had never used a milling machine and at first we had dreams of trouble every day such as jamming the machine with maize. We gradually mastered the operation and with some training we learnt how to maintain the machine in good condition,” said Esnath Makoshori, 50, the chairperson of the committee.

“After receiving some practical lessons with the help from CCD, we can now even fix most cases of mechanical faults. All committee members have also mastered the skill of milling grain according to the specific taste of individual customers,” she added.

“The mill is a community initiative and it is currently supporting eight children (two females and six males) with school fees, uniforms and food supplies. All these children are at secondary level. Through the village head, community elders and school headmasters we have identified the poorest families to be the beneficiaries,” Makoshori said.

Hard labour

The mill had spared local women and girls the physical pain and exhaustion of hours of hard manual labour and saved a lot of time which could rather be used to pursue educational and income-generating activities, she added.

The treasurer of the group, Maisei Jaravaza, said monthly income for the grinding was around $410.

“The project is dependent on good harvests in the area and government grain loan schemes. We also use the income to maintain the mill and pay for running costs like grease and replacing the sieve when it breaks. We also pay electricity bills and monthly licenses,” Jaravaza said.

“We will also give loans to various families to cushion themselves in times of hardship, and we spend a small amount on funerals within the community,” she added.

CCD opened its office in Zimbabwe in 2000 and is currently active in Manicaland. The NGO works in the key areas of Food Security, Disaster Relief, Health Care, Water and Sanitation, and Community Development.

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