World Environment Day 2024: Humanity Depends on Land to Survive

Making Peace with the Land

We are the generation that can make peace with land, save planet Earth, and protect the natural habitat. Every year, environmental degradation is reversing gains made in advancing humanity; people suffering the most are those who have least contributed to the problem.

Planet Aid and our global partners, Humana People to People, join the rest of the world in commemorating World Environment Day. For the past, close to 30 years, Humana People to People has supported over 300,000 smallholder farmers to increase food production and build their resilience against climate shocks. We acknowledge that adapting to climate change and ensuring food security require dynamic approaches that are in harmony with sound ecological conservation and contribute to human-nature symbiotic co-existence.

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 The World Environment Day 2024 theme is “land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience.” The event is occurring at a time when the planet and its humanity are enduring existential threats. Climate change and biodiversity loss are cordially intertwined. Tackling the negative effects of climate change will require a holistic approach and transformations not only in awareness-raising but also in how people on the globe produce food, how we people live our lives, and how societies are utilizing the scarce resources available and sparing some for future generations.

 Rural communities around the world are facing environmental disparities that are impacting the food security, health, and well-being of the people living in the rural areas. Many of the people earning a living in the rural communities have their lives directly linked to the land and its natural resources. Rural communities need support to ensure they build climate resilience against the onslaught of climate change on their smallholder farming activities.

BUILDING RESILIENT COMMUNITIES PROJECT (5) Farmers’ Clubs is a sustainable agriculture and environment protection concept designed and developed by Humana People to People following the need for a people-centred and community-led farming approach in the wake of climate change. Members of Humana People to People work with rural communities to take an active role in environmental conservation as they carry out farming. Conservation agriculture is at the center of various sustainable practices targeting the adoption of minimum soil disturbance; the promotion of healthy environmental ecologies; and the efficient utilization of water for all-year horticulture production. Collaborative efforts between farmers, local government structures, and environmental organizations are integrated to ensure strengthening  resilience of rural communities.

The Role of Rural Communities

 Humana People to People appreciates the role rural communities have in entrenching social cohesion, building lasting bonds and ensuring trust in mutual learning, all taking place in a collective organised structure. The Farmers’ Clubs organize smallholder farmers in groups of 50 who work collectively in sharing their knowledge, receive trainings, and go for exchange visits that expose them to new ways of farming. A demonstration plot is their platform of learning as a group, which they use to carry out practical farming experiments, as they translate what they learn through theory to generate observable transformations. Most of the climate resilient adaptations strategies are demonstrated in the demonstration plot, among them growing drought resistant crop varieties such as small grains, intercropping, pot-holing, mulching, organic soil fertility enrichment, among others.

Construction of model firewood saving stoves

 In Zimbabwe, Humana People to People’s founding member Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) Zimbabwe has complemented government efforts for the past 43 years through implementing short and long-term development project activities in education, farming, community development, and health. DAPP Zimbabwe started the first Farmers’ Clubs project in 2006 in the Bindura district of Zimbabwe. Since then, the program has expanded to 14 countries spread across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

“DAPP Zimbabwe is committed to training smallholder farmers so they embrace new farming methods which protect the natural environment. As an organization, we are implementing Farmers' Clubs in Masvingo, Manicaland, and Mashonaland Central provinces of Zimbabwe. We work closely with the government of Zimbabwe as we develop smallholder farming in rural Zimbabwe,” says Ruth Makumbe, National Programmes Director for DAPP Zimbabwe.

Within Zimbabwe, the Farmers’ Clubs has engaged in excess of 60,000 smallholder farmers with climate-resilient farming techniques, worked closely with local community structures in the domain of farming and aligned with the government’s agriculture development policies.

3Y1A0578DAPP Zimbabwe believes that when farmers work the land to support their communities, they can turn the tide against climate shocks.

 Farmers’ Clubs Chivi is one amongst four operating sustainable agriculture and environment protection projects being implemented by DAPP Zimbabwe. The district of Chivi is highly exposed to the hazard of drought induced by climate change and climate variability. The increased frequency of water scarcity arising from erratic rainfall has seen almost all smallholder farmers experiencing crop failure leading to hunger as most of the farmers’ livelihood is directly linked to subsistence farming.

“When we received rainfall at the beginning of the season it was a lot and our crops were poised to make it. Unfortunately, mid-way through the season the rains just stopped and the crops failed to yield the expected harvest, thus they wilted in the field,” says Mrs. Mapfumo, one of the local smallholder farmers who is actively involved in Farmers’ Clubs Chivi.

 However, farmers who have adopted climate-resilient farming, notably drought-resilient crops such as small grains short-season variety, achieved better yield. Small grain crops such as sorghum and finger millet have proved to withstand long dry spells. Growing small grain crops has been practiced in Chivi for centuries and its labour-demanding nature has seen most of the youths not practicing it. Farmers’ Clubs Chivi promotes the farming of drought-resistant crops.

 We recognize the efforts of the most at-risk communities, partners, and the global environment community in how they are fighting off climate change and reducing desertification through land restoration to create a better future for all. Ending the climate crisis is all possible, it only takes the global community to come together and prioritize investing in climate change initiatives. Our continuous engagement with the hardest hit communities creates hope for a future where communities are more climate resilient and able to thrive.