Heal Zimbabwe partner, Emthonjeni Womens Forum rallies communities in Tsholotsho to demand accountability over CAMPFIRE resources

Sustainable Development Goal 10 provides for Reduced Inequalities. One of the targets of this important goal is to promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.

As part of contributions towards this goal, Heal Zimbabwe partner, Emthonjeni Womens Forum, has intensified advocacy work on the need for women in Tsholotsho to actively participate in demanding accountability and transparency from duty bearers. Women from Tsholotsho district bear the brunt of poor social service delivery owing to the lack of platforms where they can freely engage with duty bearers. While noting that Tsholotsho is well endowed with natural resources such as timber and wildlife, communities still face challenges in reaping the rewards from these resources due to mismanagement and lack of accountability and transparency. Of special concern is the lack of information on the use of revenue generated from the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE). Under this programme, communities are encouraged to conserve local wildlife populations while at the same time deriving economic benefits to supplement their subsistence farming.

Through support from Heal Zimbabwe, Emthonjeni Womens Forum initiated a project that sought to strengthen Women’s Voices in Accountable Local Governance processes in Tsholotsho District. The project empowered women from Tsholotsho Ward 6, with advocacy skills to demand their constitutional rights on the management of their natural resources. Two social accountability meetings were held between duty bearers and rights holders led by Ward Action Teams. The meetings provided platforms where women held duty bearers to account for local ward retention funds and the natural resources funds. Three radio programmes were conducted to highlight the concerns of women from ward 6 in Tsholotsho on how they would like to benefit from their natural resources and advocate for the accountable management of public resources. During one of the dialogues with Tsholotsho Rural District Council, (RDC) women highlighted that they had never received any feedback or updates from the CAMPFIRE committee on the use of the funds. “We have no idea on how much an elephant or a timber costs, we just hear that the elephants were sold and see trucks ferrying our timber and yet we were not privy to the use of the money,” said Jane Sibanda at Tshino ward 6 Tsholotsho.

As part of feedback to the meeting, the RDC reported that 30% of revenue from CAMPFIRE goes to the RDC, 4% to the Campfire National Association level program and 60% to the ward. The RDC also committed to address the challenge of water by ensuring that boreholes are repaired frequently and encouraged community leaders to follow up on their issues through established CAMPFIRE committees.

The intervention by Emthonjeni Womens provided a platform for women to engage duty bearers as well as demand transparency and accountability. As resolutions, the dialogue meetings resolved that CAMPFIRE committees elected at both ward and village levels were supposed to have equal representation for both men and women. The intervention by Emthonjeni Womens Forum is one among many interventions by Heal Zimbabwe to strengthen capacity of citizens to uphold participation, inclusion, transparency, accountability and responsiveness principles and mechanisms. Such interventions help build peaceful and socially cohesive communities.

Source: Heal Zimbabwe

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