Mody Nyathi, an elderly widowed woman aged 81 years from Mahlokohloko village in ward 4, Gwanda district is one of the “Resilience to the effects of Climate Change through Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) programme” beneficiaries. She has put into practice the theoretical knowledge on environmental conservation that she acquired from training workshops.Before Nyathi started conservancy work, she survived on food handouts from her children and rain-fed agriculture where she harvested low yields of 7-10x 50kg bags of cereals. The harvest lasted her an average of 5 months.

Through knowledge acquired from workshops, Nyathi planted indigenous grasses, that is, “uqunga and umadodlwana” that were slowly becoming extinct in Gwanda. The former is used for thatching, while the latter for making brooms. She dedicated a hectare in size to the growing of indigenous grasses. Community members started flocking to her in search of thatching grass and she realized she could earn an income from her conservancy work. In late 2016, Mody managed to sell over 80 bales of thatching grass at $2.00 each in one season. Her passion for conservation of the environment has led to improved food and household income. The income generated from sale of indigenous grasses has enabled Nyathi and family to supplement their diet and pay for grinding meal costs.

The grass conserves water and reduces erosion and runoff in her farmland leading to improved yields. Her yields have significantly improved from 10x50kgs of cereal to 20 bags which she got in the 2015/16 farming season.

“Mina ngingumfelokazi ovusileyo! Ngemva kwezifundo ngasuka ngayaqalisa ukulima ngilondoloza imvelo. Akula nhlabathi edlalisekayo emasimini ami. Labantwabami balima ngogatshopo abakufunda kimi. Khathesi ngilindele ukuphegelwa imigelo ebamba amanzi emasimini esakufundiswa kuworkshop yezemvelo.”

“I am a widowed and intelligent lady! After the workshops, I did not waste any time and implemented what we had been taught. There is no soil that is lost in my fields as I practice Climate Smart Agricultural principles. My children also practice conservation farming which they learnt from me.  I am only left with pegging and constructing contours in my other field to conserve both soil and moisture.

In the next coming year, Nyathi intends to construct contours in her fields in 2017 to harness more water and prevent further soil losses.