Climate Change by Any Other Name
According to Sekai, everyday she makes three trips to fetch water at the public borehole which is approximately four kilometers away from her homestead.
“It’s a painful trip, but it has to be done otherwise we will have no drinking water at home. All our homestead wells are dry,” she says, wiping sweat from her brow. "And, tomorrow, I have to do this again."
The mid-afternoon sun, hot like a possessed devil, casts a shadow across her face as she balances the bucketful of water on her head and walks towards her homestead with her sister trailing her.
Many homesteads in this smallholder farming area usually have a private borehole or well but these have been drying up in recent months forcing villagers to walk long distances to look for water.
"It last rained three weeks ago, and it seems this didn’t have an impact on the water table," said Cleopas Jeche, a small holder farmer, "If the rains don’t come in another week, we will definitely face a drought this season."
The rainfall pattern in Zviyambe, as in many parts of rural <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Zimbabwe, has been changing over the past two decades. The predictability of the rainfall pattern is now a thing of the past yet the smallholder farming patterns have not changed.
In the past, Zimbabwe used to experience the rain season from October to January but, now, it is a blazing sun that has become the order of the day. Sometimes clouds gather in the sky.
No-one calls the phenomena unfolding here climate change. In fact, many people think that God is laughing at them by withholding the rains. The fact of the matter is that if the rains do not fall in time, people will not have food. Zimbabwe, as many other southern African countries, is already over-burdened with HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Food insecurity will only serve to compound these problems.
In Zviyambe, the wells and dams that are drying up are signs that something is amiss yet not much is being done to make people aware of the problem of climate change.