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Nutrition Survey - Nyaminyami District (Kariba Rural)


Kariba rural or Nyaminyami district is ranked as the least developed district in all of Zimbabwe (77th out of 77 on ranking the Human Development Index)4. It is bordered to the west by Lake Kariba, to the south by Binga district, by Gokwe North to the east, and by Hurungwe to the north and north-east. There are no tarred roads in the district, and the unsurfaced roads have been subjected to serious deterioration especially during the rainy seasons. The district, which lies largely in Natural Region IV and V, normally receives erratic and insufficient rainfall and periodic droughts, resulting in relatively poor agricultural production. Only a small portion of the district lies in Natural Region III. The district has an estimated population size of 40,8275

Nyaminyami is a chronic food production deficit area, meaning that most households very rarely produce enough food to last throughout the year. Therefore to ensure food security, they rely on a variety of income-earning activities including the sale of cash crops (especially cotton) and vegetables, sale of crafts, labouring on others' farms and brewing. The sale of livestock is not as important in most of Nyaminyami as it is for other rural communities in Zimbabwe due to the continued presence of tsetse fly in the district. This means that communities are not officially permitted to keep cattle, except in the Kanyati area. A substantial portion of the district is taken up by National Parks, with wildlife often straying into the communal lands.

The communal lands in the district have been classified into five distinct food economy zones6(FEZ) - geographic units in which most households obtain food and cash income through roughly the same combination of means7. Two of these zones - Omay Agro-Fishers and GacheGache Agro-Fishers - are mainly dependent on fishing on Lake Kariba, and have not been included in this assessment due to their small populations, and because they tend to be food secure even in drought years. The three other zones - Mola/ Negande, Nebiri/ Msambakaruma/ Kasvisva and Kanyati - are distinguished mainly by levels of agricultural productivity, and by livestock holdings. Tsetse fly is still prevalent in Mola/ Negande, and increasingly in other parts of the district, but this has contributed to keeping Mola and Negande the poorest parts of the district.

A Household Economy Assessment (HEA) conducted by Save the Children (UK) in May 20028 in the communal areas of the district produced the following observations and predictions:
  • The 2002 harvest was significantly reduced by drought, with grain production falling to 26% of the 1990s average.
  • Communities were affected by losses of cattle and donkeys to tsetse borne trypanosomiasis. Sale of livestock was an important means of coping despite the low livestock holding in the district. This reduction in livestock holdings will impact negatively on future agro-production as well as coping capacity.
  • It was predicted that the poor group would be food insecure as of June 2002, and the middle wealth group from September 2002. Due to this livelihood and food insecurity, it was recommended that food aid amounting to 75% energy RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) be ensured.
In terms of health, Nyaminyami is a malaria endemic area and has high under-five prevalence of diarrhoeal disease and respiratory infections. The poor roads and road networks which reduce accessibility to health facilities also exarcebate the problem.

The district benefits from a Christian Care general food distribution programme, part of the World Food Programme's national food aid programme. The programme, which has been running since April 2002, targets all households in the district but limits rations to a maximum quantity of that of five beneficiaries per household.

Also under implementation, is a highly targeted SC (UK) food aid programme which facilitates the provision of free distributions of food aid to a limited population of specific, highly vulnerable groups (just over 5,000 individuals in total). Beneficiaries encompass "Social Welfare" cases in the district, namely widows, the elderly and disabled and orphans who are without family support or a formal source of income.The beneficiaries receive rations of maize meal, cooking oil and beans.

A nutrition survey carried out in the district by SC in February 2002 found a global acute malnutrition level of 5.8%, and a chronic malnutrition (stunting) level of 34.1%. Mola and Negande were found to be the worst off areas with acute and chronic malnutrition levels of 7.4% and 47.6% respectively. The current survey thus endeavours to assess the changes in nutritional status since then.

  1. UNDP Zimbabwe Human Development Report, 2000
  2. This population estimate is provided by FEWS-NET, and is based on the 1992 census figures with a derived population growth rate. FEWS-NET's estimates are the most widely used figures, including by WFP and the UN.
  3. Majid N. Risk Map Report - Nyaminyami. Harare: Save the Children (UK): 1997
  4. Save the Children (UK). The Household Economy Approach: Aresource Manual for Practitioners. London: Save the Children (UK), 2000
  5. Household Economy Assessment Kariba District, Mashonaland West Province; Harare: Save the Children (UK): May 2002
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