HARARE – An international organisation has extended a lifeline to villagers in Nyanga through its skills training project which seeks to alleviate poverty.
In its endeavour to improve the livelihoods and provide decent work, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in conjunction with the ministry of Youth, equipped 11 villagers with skills on growing potatoes through its Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (Tree) programme.
Nyanga boasts of rich soils conducive for potato production. The beneficiaries are commencing their project on a 0,1 hectare field. One of the beneficiaries, 31-year-old Lucy Mudewayi said potatoes had become her livelihood.
“I was just in the village doing nothing but this project has allowed me to dream. I want to buy a cow with proceeds from the potatoes,” Mudewayi said.
Another beneficiary, Innocent Mapfurira, 24, said he had not managed to secure any form of employment ever since he completed his ‘O’ levels seven years ago.
“I now have something to do. My hope as a beneficiary is to work on a bigger piece of land. I want access to a loan so that I can grow my potatoes on a bigger field,” he said.
The beneficiaries, who have since been allocated a 10 hectare farm after the success of their pilot project, said their major challenge was to pump water into their field. Eliam Mahohoma, economic empowerment officer at ILO, said the skills programme comprised of two main components designed to promote decent and productive employment and income generating opportunities for youths through skills development initiatives.
ILO used two programmes, Tree which addresses the nexus between poverty and the role of skills training, especially rural skills training and quality improvements in informal apprenticeship — QIA.
The two programmes, which also address gender equality, speak to the inadequacy of traditional vocational skills training programmes.
“The success rate of our programmes is 90 percent as compared to 30 to 40 percent in the conventional vocational training.
“More than 50 percent are female beneficiaries. Majority of training graduates are in the ‘self-employed’ category.”
Mahohoma said the project had the potential to create additional jobs as evidenced with the pilot project which started yielding positive results after six months.
The innovative programme also empowers people living with disabilities as evidenced by the participation of physically handicapped Brighton Mahumba.
ILO director Tabi Abodo,who expressed satisfaction with the project, said he had been touched by Mahumba, who despite his disability, took part in the project.
Mahumba, who was assisted by his mother, would sit and do whatever he could on the field while his mother tilled the land on his behalf.
The organisation also donated a wheel chair to allow him to move around with ease.