A Climate Smart Technology Towards Food Security in Zimbabwean Rural Areas- Pfumvudza/Intwasa Part 1

The relationship between poverty , nutrition and food security is a complicated matrix that is indisputable. Poverty is difficult to eliminate when people are food insecure. The quality of the food also determines the level of the poverty. The challenges presented by climate change further complicate the food nutrition poverty nexus.

The fool is the one who keeps on doing the same thing expecting a different result. Faced with poor sandy , loamy soils in most of the rural areas that dominate the country it is clear that agrarian authorities in the country needed a paradigm shift in handling the shifting tides of the climate dynamics. Doing the same thing would lead to the constant peril of poverty and the inevitable begging bowl-A difficult scenario when the country faces a black out from multilateral institutions. As the old adage goes a hungry man is an angry man. Who knows what an angry hungry man can do and fathom?

It is not a secret that 60% of the Zimbabwean population dwells in the rural areas. This statistic has increased with the adverse effects of Covid-19. Most people tracked their way back to the rural areas when the going become tough in city life and truth be told the return of many shall be susceptible. The burden for food security has increased thus in rural areas.

In the haphazard land reform program the intention was to address a systematic inequality of generational proportions- however the implimentation was chaotic-the taking over of fully functional farms without a plan and purpose to the untrained land hungry populace. Corruption enveloped the process and many schemes to sustain the land reform process were misused. Backfiring through plummeting production and a reduction in the national grain reserves. It alienated Zimbabwe from the world financial troughs, crippling its bread basket status in the process making the country food insecure.

A certain assumption is made by many that is actually open for debate. The bread basket status of Zimbabwe was not fueled by the big farms -yes they contributed in producing the surplus that converged upon Africa but the small holder farmer or aptly the rural subsistence farmer was able to contribute to their own food needs and produce even surpluses that went into national reserves to augment what was coming from the farms. Had the land reform program been fairly done it is clear that those in poor sandy soils who had been farming all along should have been given first preference including the former farm workers , because they know how to work the land. However instead most of the beneficiaries sat in their swanky offices in cities thinking the land would work itself. The land does not work itself-it must be worked.

The support given to the so called new farmers did not correspond with the support given to rural subsistence farmers yet these continued to produce enough for themselves. You This gap between the rural subsistence farmers and the new farmers was not clear until the climatic shifts. The last 15 years in Zimbabwe have been a drought nightmare. The rains just have not been forthcoming and thus the subsistence farmers have thus been greatly affected and as a result are not only failing to contribute to the national reserves but have now consistently failed to feed themselves and have to rely on the generosity of government and food donor agencies.

The authorities are well aware of their responsibilities towards an important voting block and have consistently been providing small farm inputs to the rural populace. However monitoring and evaluation was always problematic. Some individuals upon receiving inputs sell their inputs to the black market immediately after receiving them. Most had stopped tilling the land. Corruption which is endemic in the country is clearly a monster even in such matters.

However one of Zimbabwes biggest agrigrian resource is its agritex extension officers popularly known as mudumeni/umulimisi. These guys have a wealth of knowledge which clearly government in the previous years was under utilizing. Coupled with new learning in climate smart agricultural technologies the Zimbabwean authorities have heard a paradigm shift in their approach to rural farming.

With the harsh knowledge of the poor soils found in most rural areas and the erratic rains the department of agriculture through its extension officers have spread far and wide teaching rural subsistence farmers the concept known as #pfumvudza #intwasa. Contrary to what most people believe this is a climate smart agricultural technology that utilises local resources and harnesses residual human strength without Mechanisation. The land has been tilled for so long, it will not produce using mechanized systems. It needs nourishment through ash , cow and goat manure mixing with lime to cure the soil and the use of old traditional methods of harnessing water. The system is done in such a way that if rains disappear as they sometimes do farmers can use very little water to sustain the crop while it waits for the rains to come.

Why is this concept smart climate technology? The previous drought just last year ravished work animals such as donkeys and cattle. Farmers thus are lacking the means of production to till the land. The soils are poor and need new management systems to replenish them. The rains erratic. The monitoring and evaluation of inputs poor : Enter #pfumvudza #intwasa.

#lntwasa #pfumvudza are indigenous words that indicate beginning of the blooming seadon a traditional sign indicating land preparation and readiness. Climate smart technologies incorporate the use of technologies that do not damage the environment and cause the soil to recuperate. Rural farmers across the country under the auspices of agritex officers have been preparing land across the country. Put in groups of 10 or as individuals preparation of the land is made by completely making sure small land pieces called plots are cleared so that there is no soil disturbance. Digging 15cm holes measuring 52m X 28m , 60cm apart ( the whole sizes and plot sizes might be different depending with areas) that will be mixed with animal manure and then planting grains suitable for each region with a strong emphasis on sorghum/rapoko/millet and sunflower both crops with an ability to withstand drought. The sides of the holes are then mulched with different mulching from sticks to grass whatever you have in order to contain the little moisture that will come with possible drought. Its a fail safe method. No matter how bad the drought the land will produce something. The farmers are then given inputs based on the report from the agritex office on actual work on the ground. Those who have prepared their land according to the instructions will get their inputs and not just everyone. This way government actually knows the number of households that have participated in the program, the anticipated food supply and the potential lack. So when the authorities parrot that they will be food secure in two years time without any need for food inputs they are basing it on work on this work on the ground. The excitement on the ground from villages is palpable.Other donor agencies have supported this program with nutritional support as digging these holes is no child play.

Those who do not understand climate smart technologies will go on and be sceptical and put political connotations to the whole program , but for the first time maybe the authorities have a winning formula. As the leaves on the jacaranda tress begin to bloom it is indeed time for #pfumvudza or #intwasa when the festivities inclined with farming must begin and indeed a new hope of a better time and season. Remember a hungry man is an angry man but when the belly is satisfied there is not much to be disgruntled about.

Drinking In The Forefathers Wells Of Poverty

It is profoundly perplexing how poverty can be owned so beautifully by those experiencing its wretched hold. It is as if one is drinking from the forefathers wells -only of poverty. The complex nature of poverty is that it cannot be broken by piecemeal solutions. It usually has a generational mandate passed down from one generation to another. It is like a drinking well inherited. Passed down by the forefathers. Its as if it belongs to the whole village-drinking from the same well passed down from one generation to another. Emboding genetic characteristics that can not be wished away.

It blinds those wallowing in its grip to believe that there are an emancipated lot , only for those peering in to look in sympathetic dismay.

Poverty seems to have a lifespan of its own. Taking on the characteristics of a cycle. Each generation fulfilling its mandate as an African cock makes its morning calls to awaken those in morning slumber. Only they never awaken. A blissful disaster.

That drink from the forefathers well begets a defiant stance that catapults the unlearned mind to believe that those that desire to break from its mold are partaking of juju and sojourning in the occultic world.

That drink from the forefathers well demarcating a child as a proficiently educated when they have a acquired the ability to read and write their name, all other learning folly and herding cattle becomes the important.

That drink from the forefathers well that stops a pristine bubbly teenager from finishing secondary school saddled by the burden of pregnancy that commits the rest of that life towards the abyss of poverty.

That drink from the forefathers well that perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty.When will this cup pass over?

Racism finds Solace in Patriarchy

It is an anomaly how the slave trade was perpetuated for so long? How systems like colonialism flourished forso long ? And, how Racism is the hidden go-to tool of most modern systems.

The domination and subjugation of one race , tribe over another stems from a need to have power over another , rooted in the deep seated nature of domineering males. Those who seek to run rough shode over women and young people will also seek to do the same to those that they deem to posses inferior characteristics that they equate with the offices of women and the young. As such, societies that have practised the worst cases of racism , colonialism, xenophobia , ethnic have had to battle a certain attribute in their echelons-hard domineering men at most levels of decision making-Patriarchs! Those that have conquered these negatives fought hard to eliminate patriarchy first.

Racism would never have permeated the blanket of history if it was not flanked by patriarchy. Men who think that it is okey to violate women and girls, together with young people will not find a huge deficit in their characters when they practise the same to those who look different from them. They will use the same tools that they use on girls , women and young people to foist on other tribes and races.

Patriarchy of any sort resonates with the callous nature of racist , Afrophobist , xenophobist and tribalist. It is a second cousin once removed. A fruit falling not too far from its tree. It truly is not difficult to quantify a racist-follow the trail of how they treat the young and women that look even like themselves and see the destructive nature of their characters.

A desire around the world to cleanse the world of racism is a far fetched idea without the same effort subjected to patriarchal tendencies. The same alliances that create a need to subjugate women and youth work in racism. Racism finds solace in patriarchy and indeed patriarchy finds solace in racism

In our pursuit to find racial justice we must find justice for young people and for women and girls around the world. These two cannot be separated because there are hewn from the same tree. When women and young people have a level playing field it is also correspondingly true that racial justice and equality will be gaining positive traction and a foothold. Ample resources and time must be spent on delivering justice for all the undertrodden so that the emancipation and release of the other is progressively realised. No where will racial justice prevail without the same equal opportunities made available to young people and women. Those who seek to perpetuate the domination of women and youth will seek the same domination of other races and tribes. It is a twin battle of fighting racism and patriarchy .

The Patriarchy Series : Self Preservation-The Hallmark of the Patriarchs

There is an African idiom that alludes to the fact that when the elephants fight it is the ground that suffers. It is a reflection of how ugly the domineering character so common in patriarchy can become destructive.

Patriarchy by its nature leads to inequality and skewed resources patterns because it accumulates more for itself at the peril of those it claims to protect. It garners its power and base by having an unfair advantage that it perpuates by making sure those resources are never shared equally by those seeking redress, be it the young and women. It understands that it derives its value and its power from these very same vulnerable groups and other under represented populations like those living with disabilities and marginalized communities such as those in rural areas. It always finds loopholes that it can use to make sure that its status quo is not questioned.

It is never in the nature of patriarchial societies to share. Wealth is accumulated at the expense of all and sundry with copius amounts of the bounty shared amongst the enablers of the status quo. There is a folly in assuming that one is valuable to a patriarch. You are only as valuable as the defense mechanism you can offer against those who seek to rock the boat. Those who have been yoked by the shackles of patriarchy must never make the assumption that it is their freedom and benefits that patriachs seek to preserve-on the contrary when one sees the gathering of patriarchs it is that old adage of Self-Preservation. It is like playing Russian roulette with them- sooner or later there will be an unlucky squirm.

When Patriarchial systems and structures are challenged it is not beyond themselves to gather together and form formidable structures in the name of self preservation. In the eyes of the weak it appears as compromise and a willing to let go and come to better terms but it is seldom that- it really is self Preservation.

Patriarchal cultures and traditions are not in a hurry to change the status quo. The weak and marginalized must never make the assumption that a system that benefits itself will self decimate- that is naivety. Rather patriarchs are champions of tokenism- you are given enough opportunities and resources to silence your distress. Women and youth are brought at the decision making table in only enough numbers to ensure that justice seems to prevail.

Self Preservation is the need to gasp for oxygen at whatever costs. It is said sometimes saving a drowning person who cannot swim is dangerous. When trying to save them they might fight you and take you down with them.

Patriarchs always find a way of surviving. Patriarchy is like that rock in the river that chooses to become a round pebble shaped by the torrent of the river. Survival and self preservation at whatever cost. Better to change shape than be totally annihilated. Self preservation the hallmark of patriarchy.

Limited opportunities, unequal pay , genderbased violence and all the ills of patriarchy will be with us for a long time as patriarchs will continue to gasp for air even yet as they try to avoid drowning.

The curd of poverty

The digestion process of a cow is the stuff of legends.Cows it is said have four stomachs which help break down difficult materials like grass. The first time it eats , its just enough to allow for swallowing. The food is stored in the multiple stomachs to be stored and later regurgitated. This process of bringing back food or swallowing as it is can be aptly titled ruminating or chewing the curd.

Poverty has an amazing resemblance to curd. It seems to undergo it’s own processes of digestion yet alas it comes back to be wholly unswallowed and returned back in the stomach totally ruminated. It is a curd of sorts. The curd of poverty l call it.

It sounds unkind but how else does one explain its continuous cycle that seems to come back. Zimbabwe recently amended the Education bill and has put in a number of progress elements in this bill. However one of those elements does not settle down well with me. Why one would ask-the amendment is clearly a heads up in the emancipation of young women and girls in giving them equal opportunities when faced with the grim realities of pregnancy. Yes it does give rights to continue school despite pregnancy.Indeed no one should have to leave school because of pregnancy but herein lies my disillusionment with this provision. I have seen first hand how early pregnancy plays into the nexus of poverty and development.Early pregnancy contributes to poverty greatly. It is part of the curd of poverty.

I am sure they meant well in putting this clause but my reading is that it should have come with a qualification of the kind of circumstances allowing for one to continue in school despite being pregnant. YES those with the means and resources will celebrate and say it is progressive -but is it really?Are we not creating an environment for unsustainable pregnancies which will only increase the curd of poverty.

Let me break it down a little bit. l leave in a rural area , l work with young people especially girls in these rural areas. Going to school with the right amenities and resources is a tall order. The poverty in these areas means that such opportunities are only once in a life time. Mind you, the bill says the state has a responsibility towards basic education and not secondary education both for the young and adults. Parents struggle to send the children to school and some of these children when they reach exam level struggle to find the examination fees and have to rely on programs like ours to help them register for examination as government can only do so much. A lot fail to write and thence begin that process of tragedy -in this day and age where does one get a job without basic O’level. The resources and amneties so limited that those who are able to pay have a daunting task to pass. It is one day when we had an opportunity to pay school fees for some young people and we were looking at whom to pay for. It was sad that those with paid fees were those on BEAM and other students from an organisation working with young people as ours-the rest of the students had not paid fees for years. I left petrified.What does the future hold for our young in rural areas ? Surely when there are such struggles already, how then does one think adding the burden of pregnancy and a young one will make the school process easier and the poverty food security nexus easier. Our resources in our nation are limited and safety nets for young people have dwindled and the curd of poverty continues unabated. When l look at it as an educationist and social changemaker this part of the piece of legislation by its broad nature has not made the challenges that young people better but it could be the catalyst for an implosion and an increase of the curd of poverty.

If the provision of Post Exposure resources are made available in this country to victims of rape and violence and those in the medical field the same should have been adjudicated to the prevalence of pregnancy. Why such a blanket antidote. Had post exposure medicines (PEP)been made available to the general public it is quite clear that irresponsible sexual behaviour would be prevalent in our country in the full knowledge that an immediate solution against HIV/AIDS is available. It is in the same vein that by creating a blanket acceptance of all pregnancies in school we are letting our young people know that it is okey to engage in sexual activity without the consequences of losing a spot in school. So go ahead make merry and make babies we are saying.

It is not a popular assertion but the implosion shall be staggering.It is just a matter of time.

The Despair of the Unknown

In-school learning and physical classroom attendence is an important social protective net.Young people find solace and relationship in the conducive environment of school.They learn to interact and learn to lead but also learn to follow in a way that results in success.The well being of young being in the school environment is usually tilted for the better when they physically attend lessons.School has important amneties that provide for physical, social and emotional well being such as clubs and sports activities. Schools have increasingly provided safe access to knowledge by pooling resources to help young people access the internet.Now most of our young people have stretched at least close to 6 months without attending physical formalized classes and the truth of the matter is that parents and society need to take a concerted effort in the management of young peoples well being to help mitigate the negative out of school experiences.The despair of the young is becoming all the more palpable.Young people have become disillusioned about what the future holds.The despair is derived from the fact that the structures and systems that young people have become so reliant on are clearly failing against the onslaught of Covid -19 repercussions.No one is talking about the future- instead young people see family and national structures fighting fires instead of creating safe buffer Zones.Young people have been literally left as if orphaned -those in exam classes cannot believe how their high hope’s have suddenly turned into disillusioned nightmares without an end in sight. The solace of school and the comfort of successful grades is no longer a guarantee of a percieved successful future.Young people feel let down by our passivity as parents , mentors and institutions. Surely we could have done more to prepare their dreams for such a crash landing , better still there might be yet time to turn the rudder and steady the ship before it sinks. It is imperative that both public and private institutions develop blueprints of how the young people will move forward post Covid-19. It is possible that we are now grooming a potential generation of young people with emotional and mental challenges stemming from a despairing of hope and a disappointment of generational proportions.A generation delving into an abyss of the unknown creating patterns of utter disillusionment.The despair and disbelief is all too clear in the unspoken gazes of their eyes as they seek solace from their surroundings but alas there is not much hope in the institutions long deemed protective social nets. Wither the young?

THE PATRIARCHY SERIES-When Matriarchs Enable Patriarchy.

Powerful men are usually political figures , religious leaders , academics and business leaders. Patriarchy is when all decisions and power solely rests with the male figurehead in a family, society, institution or nation. Patriarchs do find solace in a type of matriarchal behaviour that enables and perpetuates their behaviour . Matriarchs like patriarchs are powerful women who have just about as much power as their male counterparts, with that power solely resting on their shoulders. Commonly exhibited by mammals matriarchy in human beings usually leads to a conducive environment for patriarchal tendencies to flourish as they play the role of making sure everyone tows the line of the important male figure head. The fact that these matriachs are women should not fool one to assume that they stand in the stead of young people and all women. Most of the Matriarchs are there to entrench the power and authority of those already holding it-men.

Society and institutions have a weakness of trusting matriarchs with the responsibility of shielding younger women from systematic and structural damage though most of the concern of these matriarchs is not the vulnerability of the young. The focus is rather how the matriarch can entrench more power for the patriarchy thus creating a more enabling environment. It is difficult for the women movement to gain traction on issues that women face because the bulk of those who are in offices of power are not fighting for women but rather the gravy train they benefit from led by patriarchs. Everything rolls back to the strong male system. The matriarchs will help the women folk as long as it does not impinge on the status quo of their patriachial superiors. They will support legislation and policies as long as those policies do not affect the wealth of the patriarchial trough they feed from. They will never speak out against real injustices that affects the power base they lean on.

The destruction of the patriarchs is the congruent destruction of the matriarchs hence they will fight tooth and nail to ensure the systems and structures that maintain the status quo is not questioned or hampered. This is the reason why abuse in religious and political settings of young girls and women can continue under the very watchful eye of matriarchs who ensure that rules and regulations are maintained and those seen as troublemakers are rooted out quickly before they disturb the flow of things. Most situations do not need to reach the ears of the father head as the mother head quickly deals with the situation ensuring the patriach only handles the hot cases.

It is folly for our young women to cry to most of the women in power today because a lot who occupy these officers are enablers of patriarchal behaviour. We can debate as a young generation on the women’s quota in business, politics and religious fields but if these quotas are occupied by enablers of patriarchy then we can never have true female representation in our institutions. Our matriachial figures should help younger women along in order to occupy positions of true power without throwing them to the wolves. Spaces by women in diverse institutions should not be occupied on proximity to patriarchal power. Most women who hold offices that count for something in our African continent have a proximity to patriarchs by lineage , marriage or relationship. It is important for more vibrant open minded women to occupy spaces not because of pandering to patriarchs or enabling patriarchs but based on merit and ability. We are apt to argue for more spaces for our women folk but if these spaces are occupied by patriarch enablers then the real emancipation of women has not begun and will just be a dream.

The women empowerment movement will not flourish by having power centered on matriarchal figures or patriarchial figures but on opportunities and resources being shared equally and equitably across the line so that both women and men can come to the decision making table without one holding sway over the other. Young people can cry to have positions of leadership but if there are pawns for both matriarchs and patriarchs then the road for both young women and men will be that harder. When a small group of elite women can hold sway of the menfolk it is not a form of power we should aspire too but rather an environment of mutual respect and justice should be cultivated by all so that all can truly access equitable resources and spaces.

THE PATRIARCHY SERIES Patriarchy-The Young Men’s Hurdle.

In most instances the impact of the male figurehead is clearly exhibited by the experiences women encounter with those of the male species. However a hidden effect of patriarchy is experienced by young men. Boys and young men suffer in silence yet also carry the brutal effects of patriarchy , one might ridicule this observation but at the peril of society.

In the context of Africa this is an important viewpoint to note because Africa has at least 60% of its population being young people. Young-categorized as those between 15 and 35 years. The older generation in the particular case the older men are taking the same patriarchal tendencies they have used to foist themselves on women and girls and now applying them on young males in diverse fields but more so exhibited in commerce and politics.The sad scenario is that it is difficult for young men to come out in the open about such challenges.It is difficult for young males and females to take up space in public entities as age is used as a pre-requisite for entrance in many diverse fields usually eliminating young people at first hurdle. Entering public office or the judiciary becomes a mammoth task and each passing day becomes a hurdle. Unfortunately this process begins right at community level were boys are errand boys for male figures with the promise of future jobs and opportunities used to cajole them into discipline. They fight amongst each other to prove loyalty to that circle of figure heads all the while being blinded to the fact that they belong together with their female counterparts at the decision making table.

In most cases the challenges for young males are similar to those of women in the fight with patriarchs for economic and political space.Sport is another place were dominant male figures subjugate the younger people as they usually possess the resources that would give these young people a chance. Figure heads control the power and resources that would completely shift the trajectory of young men’s lives and use this power to garner loyalty through withholding spots and chances for important games , opportunities and platforms. Young men gather the small resources they have in order to travel for events whose bounty is then feasted on by figures such as coaches , mentors and committees.

How many times have our African governments set aside resources and allowances for young people especially to represent countries at international level only to hear that those resources never reach the youngsters but rather are imbibed by mostly male figureheads whose only prowess is the ability to occupy positions of leadership. Unfortunately this phenomenon is what perpetuates the same patriarchial tendencies when these young men finally enter into positions of authority-they take on the characteristics of their handlers and it is difficult to prescribe a different life set because they have never known it , resorting to the default settings that they know about. When they decide to fight the system they are labelled rebels and sellouts and just like women and girls are banished to the periphery of resources.It does not augur well for the African optics that most young men truly doing well have been enabled by sucking-up and not necessarily by ability as a clear connection exists between these young people and patriachy systems .

We often see them labelled as trail blazing when in fact it is their proximity to patriarchal heritage that enables their so- called wealth and connectivity accessing through the back door loans and schemes meant to benefit all.The theory of African succession has not helped young men to run away from the effects of patriarchy-others benefit yet still others crumble but the infighting for resources is legendary from village level to national level. It is a ticking time bomb how the young in Africa are being sidelined by these patriachial tendencies. The patriarchal systems can only hold on so long against the coming tide long before the barricade gives in.There is need for a serious shift in the thinking of our patriarchs. It is to their own benefit to rightly create an enabling environment for both male and female and not one over the other. Young people need to be given a stronger voice and conducive environment without connotations and attachments to the right. Without the need to belong to a certain narrative or system.

It is the onus of young people to present and fight for their right without antagonizing the very patriarchy that they want to dispose. It is important for young people to understand that being given space and taking space does not mean the sidelining of those offering the space because patriarchs are apt to feel squeezed and want to fight back rather than join hands.

So Long and God Speed….

#day22 #WinterABC2020 #afrobloggerswinterchallenge

The end of the beginning has come.I arrived to the party rather late but l am glad that l did jump in and found the grace to catch-up.

The topics in the @afroblogge #WinterABC2020 challenge did not come easy but l enjoyed how most of them brought out deep feelings we would normally not be willing to share. I met through the stories a lot of young African story tellers all with beautiful story telling abilities. l must put out an ode to the creator of this African journey @afrobloggers. You are doing a wonderful job. You are grooming great African story tellers and showing what we can achieve if we are united. It’s important for us Africans to tell our own stories and change the narratives and wrong thinking out there. Thank you for this opportunity. While you are at it-create the Afrobloggers writing fellowship-worry not about the funding, when you have a compelling idea the money will follow the idea. Although we are great seeds we all could do with more training and learning and such platforms as yours and fellowships are needed.

I enjoyed so many writings and blogs and loved how we were able to support each other. I met fellow Africans and l loved the encounter. What l can say is that you are all amazing , you are all special, you have something to say to the world -never stop speaking -never stop creating new worlds with your words. Continue to believe in that which you love and Shine ever so brightly. Congrats are in order for all who entered the challenge at whatever stage. So long and God speed.

Period poverty needs a truth revolution in Africa!

#day21 #WinterABC2020 #afrobloggerswinterchallenge

Today is the penultimate day in the winter African blogging challenge.Today we were asked to revamp an old story and bring it to life. I have revamped my post that was initially called Period Poverty needs a truth revolution in Zimbabwe.This is an issue dear to my heart and it is also my strong assertion that Africa needs a truth revolution in respect of period poverty.

Menstrual Hygiene Day was celebrated albeit muted across Africa due to the Corona virus. My assertion is we need to do some serious reckoning about period poverty in Africa. In fact we need to have a paradigm shift as women and girls about how we talk about period poverty. Now is not the time to beat about the bush – Period poverty needs a truth revolution in Africa!

It is really like playing hide and seek. Sometimes we just have to call a spade a spade. We have a spade in Africa called Period Poverty – but we keep on skirting around the issue. We need a truth revolution regarding period poverty!

The nature of the problem is that we keep hiding the real issues around the poverty women and girls endure on the continent in handling this natural phenomenon. There has never been a more opportune time to talk about this deep issue of Period poverty than during this Covid-19 pandemic. However the conversation cannot be buttered-no more nice rosy words.

What truth do we need to be telling each other ? What do our men and boys need to know? What should our policy makers need to hear ? Women are suffering in silence about, and which amenities are needed to handle the monthly circle. Its understandable why women have suffered in silence and why it’s been a taboo to speak about menstrual issues. Its steeped in the patriachial nature of our African societies. As girls and women we are taught to hide this natural phenomenon from a very early age such that by the time it happens we have been trained well enough to hide it from society’s prodding ears and eyes and have perfected the art so well that even when the scale is now so lopsided against us to our own detriment and well-being we keep on hiding our pain and discomfort in shame yet men can easily advocate for the availability of free condoms everywhere so that when there are engulfed by untamed urges they can do so in safety.

Why have the needs of women been put in the back burner for so long? As long as we do not speak out about the cost of santary wear and the amenities needed to make it bearable then we as Africans will remain a disservice to our girls and women.

Our leaders remain engrossed in entrenching themselves in power to such an extent that the issues that women need solved to make menstrual hygiene are only dealt with only on paper in order to satisfy multi-lateral financial institutions willing to enslave our economies further by pandering to the appetites of grown men who only care to create empires for themselves and their immediate kith and kin. Are our leaders so blind and immune to the issues women face to such an extent of turning a blind eye to our plight?

Factors responsible for period poverty in Africa are the same across the continent-whether you visit Zambia , Zimbabwe , Botwsana or Malawi it is all the same. Natural disasters brought by climate change worsen the impacts while still wars and conflict are added dilemmas to the whole scenario. In particular the scourge of drought makes the food security challenges even more pronounced as all family resources are diverted towards meeting basics with the needs of girls and women in particular becoming sidelined.

Lack of Sanition facilities and access to water contributes significantly to period poverty in Africa. Menstruation by its nature needs water in order to maintain good hygiene and also needs a way of disposing the sanitary wear.

Faced with the above issues what do we women actual resort to ? Some use old clothes which need to be able to absorb copius amounts of blood . Some paper, some tissue and others who are lucky can use cotton wool as the cost of pads is way out of reach for most African women and girls. There are some who are lucky and do access sanitary pads but observations show that most of these are young girls who sometimes have parents buy for them but mostly might resort to boyfriends with some not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts but in exchange for sexual favours.

Reusable pads can work but the challenge here with reusable pads is the access to clean water and soap to wash these pads and their lifespan usually runs for a year. It is also difficult to find local supplies of the materials used to make reusable pads otherwise the cost ends up being too high -others have tried to run pad campaigns but this woman issue is a constant monthly challenge-How many pad campaigns can be done?

Policy shifts and budgetary allocations should be more sustainable and not piecemeal actions to appease women and girls with women falling for the carrots so quickly and with short sightedness.

A common problem among African girls and women is what is called ‘Jeko’ which is acute period pain which can last for days on end. Most deal with this problem by taking over the counter medicines that alleviate pain such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. This simple medication can become very out of reach in our extended lockdowns and difficult economic conditions.

Sanitary wear issues are very secondary to most of the bread and better issues our society is currently facing. Our political classes are usually stone deaf to such issues and because people are faced with hunger, period poverty is an after thought both for governments and most civil society. More must be done to lesson the burden for African women and girls and one place to start with is telling each other the truth.

Advocate of Unpopular Opinions

Records of the amateurish philosophic alignment to what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell

Diary of an Aesthete

Follow the Journey...

Benjamin WATCH

questioning the question

Becoming The Muse

words on paper

The Musings Of A Rural Social Entrepreneur

My unhinged opinion on rural development , progress , youth and women empowerment in Zimbabwe and Africa

Discover

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

The Atavist Magazine

My unhinged opinion on rural development , progress , youth and women empowerment in Zimbabwe and Africa

Longreads

The best longform stories on the web

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.