The Sunday News
The District Development Fund (DDF) is a Government agency that is charged with the responsibility of providing and maintaining rural infrastructure within the Communal, Resettlement and Small-Scale Commercial Farming areas.
It is tasked with the development and maintenance of infrastructure, water supplies, roads services, hire of plant and equipment and tillage services.
It therefore plays a very key role in the development of rural communities and making sure that people in rural areas have access to roads, water and sanitation so as to live a quality life. The fact that the majority of Zimbabweans live in rural areas means that more efforts have to be directed at rural areas, with DDF the focal point.
News that DDF is drilling 600 boreholes nationwide as part of Government’s efforts to provide clean water to the people was sweet music to the ears of Zimbabweans, both in rural and urban settings. The scheme is being implemented under the Public Works and Small-Scale Irrigation Schemes Rehabilitation Programmes. Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told the media after a Cabinet meeting last week that in line with the National Irrigation Development Programme, DDF was also set to implement and resuscitate small-scale irrigation schemes
“To this end, a total of 600 boreholes (that is 60 per province) are being drilled. Four boreholes per parliamentary constituency are also being repaired using funds provided by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement under the Water Fund. To date, Matabeleland North, Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Central and West provinces have received sufficient borehole repair spares.”
The minister said DDF was constructing and resuscitating small irrigation schemes in line with the National Irrigation Development Programme which targets to place at least 200 hectares per district under irrigation.
“Examples of schemes under construction or rehabilitation include Hozoli in Silobela, Cashel Valley in Chimanimani, Duncal in Esigodini, Mutondwe in Bindura, Dongaronga in Chegutu and Chentali in Hwange.”
Improving infrastructure and opportunities in rural areas is key to eradicating hunger and poverty. Entrepreneurship and job creation depend on a facilitating environment (Thalman, 2017). Tarique (2008) adds that infrastructure development has a key role to play in both economic growth and poverty reduction. He says failure to accelerate investments in rural infrastructure will make a mockery of efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in poor developing countries while at the same time severely limit opportunities for these countries to benefit from trade liberalisation, international capital markets and other potential benefits offered by globalisation.
He argues further that the importance of good infrastructure for agricultural development in developing economies is widely recognised. In one of the technical background documents for the World Food Summit, it is concluded that “Roads, electricity supplies, telecommunications, and other infrastructure services are limited in all rural areas, although they are of key importance to stimulate agricultural investment and growth.” (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) 1996, chapter 10, p.15).
The document further argues that: “Better communications are a key requirement. They reduce transportation cost, increase competition, reduce marketing margins, and in this way can directly improve farm incomes and private investment opportunities” (ibid).
Investment in infrastructure is essential to increase farmers’ access to input and output markets, to stimulate the rural non-farm economy and vitalise rural towns, to increase consumer demand in rural areas and to facilitate the integration of less-favoured rural areas into national and international economies.
The move by the Government to capacitate DDF is commendable as it speaks to development and betterment of people’s lives.