It’s a race against time for families battling the onslaught of climate change in drought prone Zimbabwe
16 Mar 20224 Min Read
Every day is a struggle for Thandekile whose heartfelt wish is to be able to provide for her children. Climate change, which has resulted in three droughts and a severe cyclone over the past five years, means that crops are failing, and the family are struggling to feed themselves.
Thandekile raises chickens for the family and to sell for additional income. She also buys and sells clothes around the village using her bicycle to get around Photo: Cynthia R Matonhodze
In Zimbabwe, climate change will cause average temperatures to rise by about 3°C before the end of this century, devastating struggling families like Thandekile’s who are living on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Agriculture is the backbone of their economy and accounts for the majority of livelihoods across the country.
Thandekile and her family were facing hunger even before Covid-19 hit. Recent droughts and heavy rainfall caused their plants and crops to fail and the family would often go nights without eating as food was not always available in their community.
Following the death of her husband, Thandekile struggled even more to provide food for her family. Grieving for her husband meant that she couldn’t engage in farming activities which delayed the planting of crops and made them even more vulnerable to heavy rainfall.
“Following Donovan’s passing, my life was very hard financially since he was the breadwinner. It also affected my ability to earn an income as at times I would be so stressed and too sick to even go out and work. I did not have the means to pay school fees for the children, to buy uniforms and all our other basic needs because I had no source of income.”
“Due to Covid-19, a lot of businesses were shut down which made a lot of people unemployed. This worsened the ability for anyone to have access to money or at least get a job. Children could not go to school because of the lockdown and you can tell that their progress has been greatly affected.”
“I live for my children and my wish is to be able to provide for all their needs. My greatest fear is to die whilst my kids are still young. I pray that the Lord keeps me so that I raise them until they are old enough to take care of themselves,” she says.
Countries in Africa are responsible for only 4% of global carbon emissions – yet they are affected most by climate change.
Trócaire’s work in Zimbabwe
In Thandekile’s community, Trócaire operates community gardens with our partner Caritas Bulawayo to help improve adaption to climate change. Locals can plant vegetables, store seeds and learn about watershed management and planting methods. The garden is also used for Covid-19 awareness training.
“The greatest gift that people can give to one another in life is food and money, because we need it to survive. What gives me hope is that I am still alive despite all that we have been through as a family. Whatever the problems you have been through in life, it is important to dust yourself off and move on, have hope and work hard for the children even if it’s very difficult. I thank the people of Ireland for all the help you give to us, please do not tire.” Thandekile says.