…unveils €40million fund
MUTARE – Zimbabwe is part of a quartet of developing countries set to benefit from a €40 million rescue package funded by the European Union (EU) through a regional cooperation bloc by year end.
Zimbabwe together with Mauritius, Madagascar and Seychelles will benefit from this fund through the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) under the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA).
EU economic cooperation and food security, task manager Martin Zhou said the fund will be proportionally distributed with each country expected to receive over €7 million.
“There is a €40 million envelope that is dedicated to the four countries, namely Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius and Zimbabwe to implement the IEPA. So the €40 million is divided among the four signatories.
“We say €7 million but it could be more, up to €10 million,” said Zhou.
Zhou said despite slight delays in commencement of project implementation they expect to have funds approved by November 2015 before implementation starts in early 2016.
“The programme has been delayed as they were expecting to start implementation earlier. We were looking at submitting application documents in April but it has been delayed for some reason.
“But we think if we manage to identify the kind of activities to be undertaken and we submit by September then we can get the money approved by September or November so implementation can start early in 2016,” he said.
Zhou further indicated that they have since engaged a consultancy firm to look into the type of projects to be undertaken.
The EU delegate also revealed that implementation of the IEPA signed in 2012 has over the years been hampered by “certain constrains in the environment.”
“This €7 million programme that we are looking at is aimed at addressing some of those constrains that are limiting or rather imposing some obstacles to the implementation of the interim economic partnership,” he said.
This development comes after EU extended a US$234 million envelope, under the National Indicative Programme (NIP) signed on February 16, for the next five years until 2020.
Meanwhile EU demonstrated its commitment to economic cooperation with government towards improving food security in rural communities through access to renewable energy for sustainable development through the commissioning of a renewable energy project.
Under the project a total of 110 households in Mutare rural district will benefit from a mini hydro power plant commissioned by Minister of Energy and Power Development Dr Samuel Undenge recently.
The renewable energy generated from the micro hydro power plant, sponsored to the tune of $200,000 will provide sustainable cooperative projects for a total of 110 households in the mountainous area.
The generated power, which can reach up to 120KW during the rainy season, will drive two irrigation schemes covering a combined area of 25 hectares, as well as facilitate the setting up power kiosks for a saw mill, grinding mill, carpentry shop, dressmaking shop and a tuck shop.
Mr Severin Mellac believes such concrete interventions which provide tangible benefits to communities are an impetus for government to prioritise sustainable, clean, alternative and renewable energy.
Without such a substantial capital investment these households would be condemned to add to the numbers of hungry Zimbabweans in need of food assistance, at a time when government is reeling from under performance in the agricultural sector.
Sporadic periods of droughts have also affected the agricultural sector leaving farmers in dry areas of Manicaland battling to raise their productivity and this has worsened food insecurity for most rural communities, including the Himalaya community.
Mellac believes without government’s significant investment into sustainable and renewable energy food security will largely remain a pipe dream for disadvantaged rural communities which are trapped in a cycle of poverty.
He said government should emulate the international stance on the use of renewable energy towards attainment of sustainable development, particularly towards mitigating against adverse effects of climate change.
“This project is just a flower which government must turn into a beautiful flourishing garden.
“The increasing use of renewable energy is now a priority for the international world and in Zimbabwe the EU consider renewable energy as an important enabler for livelihood improvement and economic growth,” he said.
Community beneficiaries of the project said this intervention would go a long way towards providing food security and alleviating poverty in their community.
Chairman of Simbengadzibve Cooperative Irrigation Scheme said the community had actively participated in the realisation of the project by contributing their voluntary labour in setting up power lines.
“We are very grateful to the EU, Oxfam and Practical Action which came and mobilized us to work for the realization of this project. The community was very forthcoming because they knew this was their project,” he said.