Cornelius Hamadziripi, National Director for Cadec, Caritas Zimbabwe, visited the Northampton Circle of the Catenian Association to speak about the water and sanitation work the Association is supporting in Zimbabwe and about the work of Cadec.
Cadec is the relief and development agency of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe and is focused on three key areas of work – food security, water and sanitation, and HIV and AIDS.
Cornelius explained the inter-relationship between these programmes. “Zimbabwe used to be a major exporter of food, but in the last few years food production has fallen due largely to the drought which has affected much of southern Africa.
“The rains used to start in November and continue through to March, but the climate is changing and last year the rains did not start until late December and were over by February.
“Fields of maize grew rapidly while the rains fell, but withered in the heat before they had come to harvest leaving many families without even the most basic supplies.
“Supported by CAFOD, Cadec have provided food to more than 100,000 people in the last year to help them through the crisis months to the next harvest.
“With the changing climate it is now clear that rain water, when it comes, must be captured and irrigation systems developed to ensure crops have the water they need after the rains have finished.”
Cornelius noted that irrigation systems were already in place in the lowlands of the south of Zimbabwe since this area has always had less rain but, with climate change, they now needed to provide similar systems in the highlands of the north.
“In the capital Harare, as in many other part of the country, we lack even the most basic commodities. We run out of water on a daily basis.
“There is now very little to distinguish between the most vulnerable in our society and everyone else. We no longer have a middle class.
“We are all as desperate as each other – except for that tiny minority who are able to obtain hard currency from family and friends overseas.
“Society is polarised, between the few who have access to hard currency and hence food and healthcare, and the very many who do not.”
Cadec is working in all eight of the diocese in Zimbabwe, but the need for improved water and sanitation is focused in the north.
Here, Cornelius explained, Cadec is helping to sink boreholes, build small dams to create reservoirs and ensure that communities have access to secure water supplies for their own needs and to support their livestock and crops.
Simple facilities for waste management ensure water sources are not polluted by human waste – one of the main causes behind the cholera outbreak.
In recent years, state water authorities have been handed over to Para-governmental bodies which have allowed the water systems to fall into disrepair, another of the causes behind the cholera outbreak.
Cadec has focused its work at the community level – empowering community groups to develop own and maintain their water and sanitation resources.
In handing control to the communities Cadec is convinced that they will be well maintained and operated for the benefit of all.
Access to clean water and a secure food supply is essential for all. However, those living with HIV and AIDS are often the least able to go out and find the water and food they need to survive.
A proper diet is essential for those taking the antiretroviral drugs which reduce the impact of HIV and allow those living with the disease to play their full part in the life of the community.
Through the Home Based Care programme, Cadec is working to ensure that those living with HIV and AIDS have access to the food and water they so urgently need.
CAFOD is the main partner for Cadec and has been working with Cadec for many years. The Catenian Centenary Appeal will provide much needed funds to help continue and expand the work Cadec is doing to ensure that many more families and communities have access to clean water and sanitation, the essentials of life.
Cornelius concluded his remarks with thanks to the Northampton Circle and through them to the whole Catenian Association, for their support and prayers. He asked that they keep the people of Zimbabwe in their prayers.
Finally, he remarked, that in travelling to address the circle he had seen signs of unreal extravagance – Christmas lights burning brightly on the outside of houses, and yet real generosity too.
He was not sure what he would be returning to, nor what he and his family would be having this Christmas, but he promised that we would all be in his thoughts and prayers.
Posted by CAFOD Northampton