Zimbabwe: The Bikita AE Landscape project

Reviving culture, sacred sites, landscapes in Bikita East

Supported by Earthlore Foundation

The Bikita AE Landscape projectArea of implementation

Bikita East, in Bikita district , Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe.

Five communities: Gangare, Mamutse, Chiroorwe, Mutsinzwa, Masasire/ Mazvimba

Vision and Priorities

Earthlore do not consider the work as a pilot, but part of their long-term vision. The work on landscape have emerged from work we have been doing for a long time.

In Bikita, dialogues have been used for many years as a methodology to revive memory of culture, sacred sites, agriculture and seed practices.

Now, the communities are shifting to include the whole landscape.

Actions and steps

  1. At first the elders had dialogues on their own as they did not want to share their sacred knowledge with outsiders.

  2. Dialogues with elders, youth, women, traditional leaders facilitated by EarthLore to remember the way it was before. Dialogues included rain ceremonies. Since these were done, trees and crops have started to germinate again, generating optimism in the community.
  3. Eco-mapping process that included the youth, so they learned many new things.
  4. As a response to the challenges identified during the dialogues, various agroecology training designed and conducted to (re-)introduce ways of farming that works with nature, including practices that look at soil health, water harvesting and soil conservation, natural pest management
  5. Revival of lost traditional seeds and the knowledge that goes with it, including for pearl millet, finger millet and sorghum
  6. Rehabilitation of sacred sites. Three of the five communities have taken up the responsibility for reviving rituals and protecting the relevant sacred sites whilst bringing back the traditional governance systems associated with these sacred sites.

Lessons learned so far

By going at the community’s pace in dialoguing their situation, all the landscape issues are coming up one by one.
The communities realised that they need to include everyone in order to bring back the memory and as the different groups have different responsibilities and roles in the practices that enhance their landscape.
We have realised that we need a special time with elders prior to the community dialogue to make sure we understand well their knowledge before it is shared for reviving a situation. This has brought the elders on board, has built up their confidence and made them feel that they are included in the journey.

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