1193By Takemore Mazuruse

ZRCS & IFRC officials together with beneficiaries look on while the ZRCS Secretary General Mrs Emma Kundishora pumps water from one of the rehabilitated boreholes in Mugobera Village, Marange in Manicaland Province

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society's International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies(IFRC) supported Water and Sanitation and Food Security programmes have brought great relief to the vulnerable communities in Manicaland and Matebeleland South Province in the face of looming water borne diseases and hunger. Supported through funds from the Japanese government and the Hong Kong and Japanese Red Cross, the two initiatives have improved the disadvantaged's coping mechanisms g

iven the daily hustles they have to go through in seeking survival.

Of these initiatives, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Secretary General Mrs Emma Kundishora said the National Society's work is clearly cut out and they have a clear vision to become a dynamic voluntary organisation leading in the satisfaction of humanitarian needs and promoting human dignity of the most vulnerable groups. "As a humanitarian organisation that is enacted through an Act of parliament and auxiliary to government we have a unique mandate to answer to the needs of the disadvantaged groups and we stand guided by that reality. Our Food Security and Water and Sanitation projects are therefore part of our broader response in addressing the pressing needs of vulnerable Zimbabweans. The two projects together with others that include Disaster preparedness and Management, Health and HIV AIDS, Organisational Development and other areas of interest like First Aid training and Nursing Services all feed into our vision and mission. I am thus elated with the progress made and heartily salute our partners for the support," she said.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is currently running a Food Voucher programme in Matebeleland South province's Gwanda urban area among others. Through the programme, vulnerable members of the community identified by the community leadership and other stakeholders get US$20-00 worthy of grocery vouchers which they redeem at the local Savemor supermarket. The vouchers guarantee the beneficiaries compulsory grocery items like 20 kgs mealie meal, 750 ml cooking, 2kg beans while they can choose other items from the change but these must be non-alcohol or cigarettes. One of the project beneficiaries, a 76 years old granny Talaza Ndlovu thanked the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society for a well thought and timely intervention. "Many people underestimate the level of vulnerability is some urban and peri-urban areas under the guise that its only rural areas that suffer the worst. Fact is we have suffering and vulnerable communities in urban areas and I salute the Zimbabwe Red Cross and its partners for their intervention," she said. She highlighted that is was imperative that the National Society continues with the programme given that their plight is actually going to be worse this year given the poor rainfall patterns that saw crops wilting and dying.

In Manicaland province's Marange area, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society has managed to rehabilitate boreholes for the local community to guarantee safe water for the people and their animals. Low-cost latrines are also being constructed in local schools and public institutions like clinics. Marange was one of the most hard hit areas during the 2008 cholera outbreak and it is hoped that the ZRCS intervention will go a long way in curtailing possible health catastrophes owing to unsafe water usage and poor sanitary systems. The Water and Sanitation project is currently covering provinces like Manicaland's Mutare and Mudzi districts; Masvingo, Midlands's Shurugwi district; Mashonaland West's Hurungwe district; Mashonaland East and Matebeleland North's NKayi and Dete districts. In total 480 latrines will be constructed while 500 boreholes will be rehabilitated and 500 livestock drinking troughs constructed in the named provinces. Livestocks play a crucial role is the survival of disadvanatged groups as these can be sold for other needs that may arise like school fees and food.

Mr Kumbirai Zhemi, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society's Food Security and Livelihoods Officer said it was the National Society's wish to continue availing the much needed support to vulnerable Zimbabweans. "The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society offers a unique opportunity for those with a heart for humanity to play a social responsibility and we pray and hope our partners will continue supporting our initiatives. We also call on board new partners to play a role in alleviating human suffering. Zimbabwe Red Cross society cuts across the political and social divide which guarantees maximum accessibility to the vulnerable regardless or race, creed or political affiliation," he said.