MASVINGO – France’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Chevallier toured several activities funded by his embassy in the semi-arid Mwenezi district on Wednesday.
Chevallier was accompanied by the Action Contre la Faim (Action Against Hunger) (ACF) Country Director Karl Riber.
ACF received funding from the French Embassy and Nutrition Action Zimbabwe (NAZ) is implementing the project in Mwenezi.
The French Embassy in Zimbabwe and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs are funding the Food Assistance Project targeting vulnerable households with pregnant and lactating women (PLW) and malnourished children under five years old.
The yearlong program: Fighting Child Malnutrition and Building Livelihood Resilience through a Multi-sectoral Approach to Nutrition in Mwenezi, Zimbabwe, began in April 2023 and will end in April 2024.
Ambassador Chevallier told The Mirror after a tour of several activities in Wards 18, 5, 8, and 6 that he is impressed with the impact the initiative is having on the communities.
He added that France is also contributing to the £3 million maintenance and conservation of the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site.
“I am impressed with the project. We have a direct impact on the community with every project that we do. I am happy to be down here and witness the impact.
“France is also supporting another project in Masvingo through the Great Zimbabwe project with the French Development Agency (FDA),” he said.
The program also aims to build capacities, reach of nutrition-specific health services, provide agricultural input, and extension support to ensure food and nutrition for the PLW and minors and build resilience through nutrition-sensitive agriculture and livelihood activities.
The project has disbursed cash to 530 households (1 782 females and 718 males). Each beneficiary receives US$ 13 a month and a typical five-member family receives US$65.
Cash transfer beneficiaries are households with PLW and malnourished children under five years of age. US$ 64,428 has been disbursed under the program.
Seven hundred participants (587 females and 113 males) received vegetable seed packs for individual and community gardens. The seeds included Garlic, NUA 45 Sugar beans, Onion, Carrot, Spinach, Leafy covo, Tomatoes and Butternut. 3,223 female care group members have been trained in healthy harvest and vegetable production training.
Four hundred and fifty mothers have been trained in health services and nutrition. 3004 clients from care groups underwent screening for malnutrition. Some 1,650 PLWs and 3622 children (2221 girls and 1401 boys) have been screened for malnutrition.
Beneficiaries have also been taught to prepare balanced meals using locally available resources.
Riber said the project was executed before the rainy season.
“We are implementing the project before the rainy season hits full force. After that, we will monitor. We discovered severe water challenges in nutritional gardens. Clinics are far away, and PLW women have difficulties accessing them,” he said.