Coping with Drought and Climate change (CwDCC) in Zimbabwe


The project, Coping with Drought and Climate Change in Zimbabwe, worked to enhance the capacity of agricultural and pastoral communities in Zimbabwe to adapt to climate variability and change. The primary project objective was to demonstrate and promote adoption of a range of gender-sensitive approaches for adaptation to climate change among rural communities currently engaged in agriculture in vulnerable areas of the Chiredzi.

In Chiredzi District, all rural farmers face the same set of management decisions on how to allocate limited resources among crop production, livestock production, and off-farm employment. One of the main considerations in adapting to climate change is how to make the most of limited amounts of water, and how to use climate risk information for agricultural planning.

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Project details

Long known as the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe has for the last 30 years experienced dramatic losses in agricultural production resulting in critical food and fuel shortages. Coupled with the economic and political constraints, drought and climate change are testing the limits of agricultural production in Zimbabwe. In rural Zimbabwe, and specifically in the pilot project area Chiredzi district, drought is becoming an increasingly common occurrence.

With approximately 70% of Zimbabwe’s population deriving their livelihoods from subsistence agriculture and other rural activities, the most noticeable effects of these droughts are the devastating impacts on household food security and the livelihoods of the poor.  In response, and as part of a set of three other regional Coping with Drought and Climate Change (CwDCC) projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Mozambique, this project is supporting effective adaptation among subsistence farmers in six locations in Chiredzi District.

It is estimated that only 37% of Zimbabwe receives adequate rainfall for rain fed agriculture. The country has been divided into five agro ecological zones on the basis of annual rainfall received and agricultural suitability of the land. Natural Region I receives the highest rainfall whereas Natural Region V, the location of Chiredzi District, is the driest. These areas receive little amounts ranging from 250 to 500 mm per annum. Inter-annual variability in rainfall is relatively high, ranging from 16 percent on the northern plateau to 48 percent in the Limpopo River Valley. Seasons in which rainfall is 20% or more below the long-term average for the country occur on average about once in four years. Once in 7 years, rainfall will be more than 30% below the long-term average.

In Chiredzi District, as for most of the country, rain fed crops are grown during one distinct cropping season from November to April across the district. Rainfall distribution is very poor, mid-season droughts are a common feature of the district’s climate and frequent short seasons make it difficult for smallholder farmers in the area to secure food and decent livelihoods.  Temperatures are always high in summer (+ 39⁰C) causing evaporation losses of 10-13mm per day (Lovell, 1998).The warm temperature regime creates opportunities for growing a range of crops throughout the year for as long as water is available.

In addition to the low and unreliable rainfall most of the soils of Chiredzi district are heavy clays, 2:1 clay lattice (mountmorillonite), that demand a lot of water before they can release any water for plant growth.  The soils form seals when wet and as rainfall comes in heavy short duration storms, most of the rain-water runs away as run-off making most of the rainfall unavailable for crop use. The soils are very difficult to work on when wet as they become sticky and slippery.  If farmers aim to utilize all the water that falls on their land they have to prepare their fields before the onset of the rains.

Households depend on food handouts in most years. In many rural areas, such as in Chiredzi district of south-eastern Zimbabwe, residents are poor and dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. In 1995, 46% of the District’s rural population was classified as either poor or very poor and this figure rose to 60% in 2005. Rain-fed agriculture, livestock production, and remittances are the main sources of livelihood in the District. In 2005, 60% of rural households in 13 Wards in Chiredzi were food insecure and food security for many rural households in the District worsened during the period from 1980 to 2004. During the same period, the long term average rainfall in Chiredzi District declined by about 15% and eight serious droughts were observed.

Thematic areas: 
Climate-related hazards addressed: 
Level of intervention: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
Local Communities in the Chiredzi District and in particular the smallholder farmers within the Chiredzi District.
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management, Zimbabwe
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
GEF (SCCF) Funding: $983,000 (as of December 2012); Total Project Cost: $1,938,000
Co-financing total: 
$1,160,000 (as of July 2012) [Government of Zimbabwe: US$680,000, NGOs: US$175,000, UNDP: US$75,000, Others: US$25,000


Zimbabwe: Adapting Together by Climate Adaptation UNDP on Exposure

Cheers as Nyanyadzi irrigation rehab boosts output

Widow Dorcas Jena has lived off farming at the Nyanyadzi Irrigation Scheme of Chimanimani in eastern Zimbabwe since 1976 when she was married, growing mostly the maize staple on her one acre plot. And until 18 years ago when a tropical cyclone called Eline cluttered irrigation canals, a storage dam and the river systems that support the scheme with sediment, the 59-year old had often enjoyed bountiful harvests, booking in nearly 3 000kg of maize each year, on the average. But production has declined in successive years, falling to just 750kg at the end of 2016, as water shortages resulting from heavy siltation took their toll. Hunger soon followed. “Whenever we received heavy rains, my crops would be swept away and those that remained would be affected by water logging and that greatly depressed my crop yields,” lamented Jena, who looks after her 3 grandchildren and a son. A $3.98 million project to scale up climate change adaptation has carried out massive restoration works at Nyanyadzi, a gravity-fed irrigation system, helping farmers in one of Zimbabwe’s driest, drought-prone regions cope with changing climates .The programme, which began in 2014 and ending in October this year, is being implemented at different scales across three districts vulnerable to climate change – Buhera, Chimanimani and Chiredzi – by global charity Oxfam in partnership with SAFIRE, University of Zimbabwe and Government. It is jointly funded by the UNDP and the Global Environment Facility.

The Herald Zimbabwe
Monday 19 March 2018


Key results and outputs

Objective: To demonstrate and promote adoption of a range of gender segregated approaches for adaptation to climate change among rural communities currently engaged in agriculture in vulnerable areas of Chiredzi district as a national model.

By end of project, number of farmers growing a mix of more than four crops including (sorghum, pearl millet, open pollinated variety (opv) maize, groundnuts, cowpeas and cassava increase to at least 60%).By end of project number of farmers using infield rainwater harvesting increase to at least 10%.

Outcome 1: National institutions have capacity to improve knowledge base to facilitate climate change adaptation    

  • By end of project 100% awareness level is achieved among farmers in project area

Outcome 2: Livelihood strategies and resilience of vulnerable farmers/pastoralists in the selected pilot sites improved and sustained to cope with drought

  • Number of households using adapted crop and livestock management practices increase to 20% by end of project. NB: 20% of 1600 farmers

Outcome 3: Use of climate early warning systems by vulnerable communities in pilot sites increase and drought preparedness improved.

  • By end of project number of farmers using climatic information increase to 60%. (This is percentage of the 1600 farmers in pilot sites)

Outcome 4: Farmers/pastoralists outside the pilot site replicate successful approaches to cope with drought

  • By the end of the project lessons from project sites will have been documented and disseminated widely.

Reports and publications

Brochures, Posters, Communications Products
Case Study
Project Brief / Fact Sheet
Quarterly Updates
Relevant Peer-Reviewed Articles
Knowledge Products

Monitoring and evaluation

Project monitoring and evaluation will be conducted in accordance with established UNDP and GEF procedures and will be provided by the project team and the UNDP Country Office (UNDP-CO) with support from UNDP/GEF.  Monitoring and Evaluation Plan provides for a series of linked activities, including annual Project Implementation Reviews (PIR), Tripartite Reviews, Quarterly Project Reports, Work Plans, and independent mid-term and final project Evaluations. A novel feature of the monitoring strategy is that it provides for Program level monitoring, to ensure that project synergies are being realized, and activities dovetailed as planned.

Project Start:

Project Inception Workshop: will be held within the first 2 months of project start with those with assigned roles in the project organization structure, UNDP country office and where appropriate/feasible regional technical policy and programme advisors as well as other stakeholders.  The Inception Workshop is crucial to building ownership for the project results and to plan the first year annual work plan. 


Day to day monitoring of implementation progress: will be the responsibility of the Project Manager, based on the project's Annual Work Plan and its indicators, with overall guidance from the Project Director. The Project Team will inform the UNDP-CO of any delays or difficulties faced during implementation so that the appropriate support or corrective measures can be adopted in a timely and remedial fashion.


Project Progress Reports (PPR): quarterly reports will be assembled based on the information recorded and monitored in the UNDP Enhanced Results Based Management Platform. Risk analysis will be logged and regularly updated in ATLAS.


Annual Project Review/Project Implementation Reports (APR/PIR): This key report is prepared to monitor progress made since project start and in particular for the previous reporting period (30 June to 1 July).  The APR/PIR combines both UNDP and GEF reporting requirements.  

Periodic Monitoring through Site Visits: 

UNDP CO and the UNDP RCU will conduct visits to project sites based on the agreed schedule in the project's Inception Report/Annual Work Plan to assess first hand project progress.  Other members of the Project Board may also join these visits.  A Field Visit Report/BTOR will be prepared by the CO and UNDP RCU and will be circulated no less than one month after the visit to the project team and Project Board members.

Mid-Term of Project Cycle:

Mid-Term Evaluation: will determine progress being made toward the achievement of outcomes and will identify course correction if needed.  It will focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of project implementation; will highlight issues requiring decisions and actions; and will present initial lessons learned about project design, implementation and management.  Findings of this review will be incorporated as recommendations for enhanced implementation during the final half of the project's term.  

End of Project:  

Final Evaluation: will take place three months prior to the final Project Board meeting and will be undertaken in accordance with UNDP and GEF guidance.  The final evaluation will focus on the delivery of the project’s results as initially planned (and as corrected after the mid-term evaluation, if any such correction took place).  The final evaluation will look at impact and sustainability of results, including the contribution to capacity development and the achievement of global environmental benefits/goals.  The Terminal Evaluation should also provide recommendations for follow-up activities.

Project Terminal Report: This comprehensive report will summarize the results achieved (objectives, outcomes, outputs), lessons learned, problems met and areas where results may not have been achieved.  It will also lie out recommendations for any further steps that may need to be taken to ensure sustainability and replicability of the project's results.

Learning and Knowledge Sharing:

Results from the project will be disseminated within and beyond the project intervention zone through existing information sharing networks and forums. 

The project will identify and participate, as relevant and appropriate, in scientific, policy-based and/or any other networks, which may be of benefit to project implementation though lessons learned. The project will identify, analyze, and share lessons learned that might be beneficial in the design and implementation of similar future projects.

Establish a two-way flow of information between this project and other projects of a similar focus. 


Daisy Mukarakate
CO Focal Point
Jessica Troni
UNDP Regional Technical Advisor
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management - Zimbabwe
Dr. Leonard Unganai
National Project Manager/Coordinator

Oxfam is the UNDP Implementing Partner in the Scaling up Adaptation in Zimbabwe project. Implementation of the project is underway in the three targeted sub-catchments in the three districts of Buhera, Chiredzi and Chimanimani. So far, out of the targeted 10,000 households over the four year period (2014-2018), about 4,000 households (60% women headed) have been reached. A range of adaptation measures that integrate ecosystem management, climate smart farming practices, livelihood diversification, strengthening income sources, market linkages, inclusive financial services and strengthening tailored climate services for vulnerable smallholder farmers have been implemented.