Family Farm Defenders (Kansas Chapter)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chikukwa, Zimbabwe: Land Reform, Community Dispute Resolution System, and Permaculture Makes Food Sovereignty Possible

    Chikukwa, Zimbabwe:  Land Reform, Community Dispute Resolution System and Indigenous Knowledge Codified in Permaculture  Community  Makes Food Sovereignty  Possible

    1. None of this work below about the wonderful Southeast African Community of Chikukwa, Zimbabwe does this community, the people and their incredible leadership justice. However, these below are a window into an incredible African community in the most beautiful mountains of central and western Zimbabwe that is feeding and educating and caring for itself , including having come up with its own system of dispute resolution that it now teaches other communities. It is led by the wonderful Chester Chituwu and made possible by land reform.

      I had the pleasure of visiting Chikukwa in the fall of 2009 when I attended the International Permaculture Convergence in Malawi that year and participated in the three week permaculture tour through Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

      Chikukwa, 4100 villagers strong, was by far the most impressive example of where permaculture (codified Indigenous wisdom of how to live in harmony with nature) in addition to land reform, universal education and health care, as well as a working system of dispute resolution adopted by this community created a paradise on Earth.

      Driving into Chikukwa was overwhelmingly beautiful. I felt as did my colleagues on the tour as if I had arrived in Eden. The avocados were hanging from the trees. The air was so delicious, light and refreshing, that you felt as if you were drinking it and bathing in it. The light was as if you were in heaven.  The insects were, large, complex, diverse  and plentiful. I saw my first millipede, it was large and I who had always hated insects before, fell in love with these beautiful, majestic, creatures. 

      The tranquility was also also like bathing somehow and just as if you were in heaven, the garden of Eden. The soil was red and there were plants, green  and sky everywhere. The climate was warm, cool and dryish but not harsh in anyway. I felt caressed by the air and the sky and the green and the soil and the mountains and the people.

      You could see the mountains as the stretched into Mozambique. Chikukwans told us about spirits living there. It was beautiful.

      For months after leaving all I could think about was returning and staying to bask in the stillness, beauty, peace and eternalness.  Chikuwans love their community and they know what they have as well. They have dignity, pride, peace,  happiness, some justice,  and prosperity that is sustainable. This is a successful community that has weathered economic international hard times in Zim when people had to go shopping with wheelbarrows of cash.

      Julious Piti describes beautifully the story of Chikukwa in Zimbabwe, a traditional Shona community in the stunning mountains of CHimanimani district in Zimbabwe, that rebuilt itself by gaining access to land through land reform, recovered its environment and grew its own food through permaculture which codified indigenous knowledge, and built peace through a dispute resolution technique.

      Here is what others have shared:


      1.  The Chikukwa Permaculture Project (Zimbabwe) - The Full ...
      Permaculture Research Institute
      Aug 15, 2013 - The Chikukwa project was initiated in 1991. A German couple who had come to teach in Zimbabwe were key catalysts in the initiation and later ... 


The Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Management Trust (CELUCT) is situated in Chimanimani district of Zimbabwe, just below the Chimanimani mountains, not far from the Mozambique border. The area is predominantly forested highland and a sparsely populated region.
Areas of Work
CELUCT started working with the communities of the Chimanimani area in 1991, when five local volunteers decided to tackle the challenges and changes they were witnessing within their own communities. The community themselves began to realise that their environment was changing - their soils were eroding and their yields decreasing. With the help of the volunteers, the community started looking into water conservation and soil revival. CELUCT was officially registered as an organization five years later, in 1996. Chester Chituwu, the Director of CELUCT points out "because CELUCT started out with passionate volunteers, there has always been a culture within the organization of "lets not worry about our salaries, lets do the work first, the money we need will come". This attitude has without a doubt really helped us to survive because we are based in a very remote area, we couldn't wait around for funders to find us and we couldn't necessarily go to them!
There is a real spirit of co-ownership in CELUCT and an attitude that "this is our problem and we must deal with it.Chester Chituwu, Director of CELUCT
CECULT has two main programmes of work: sustainable agriculture and natural resources management (or permaculture), and building constructive community relations.
Training Centres within the Community
Over the first six years of CELUCT's work in Chimanimani they helped to establish a Training Centre within the community. This is where the trainings around ecological farming practices first started to take place and it is a space now which is used by the community for various cultural trainings and experiences for neighouring communities. Within both of these programmes significant value is placed on indigenous knowledge and so the communities are fully integrated into all activities carried out by CELUCT. Processes are experiential, with great value placed on this. In all of the trainings carried out, it is the community themselves who are the trainers. CELUCT only invite outside facilitators when no one in the community identifies having the skill.
Sharing Practices and Improving Livelihoods
As it is the communities themselves who facilitate the trainings and workshops, they get paid a small sum for doing so when the trainees come from outside the community. So as well as initially being a space to revive traditional practices, the centre offers livelihood support in its own way too. In addition to the main training centre CELUCT have identified a number of training sites within the community. These are usually homesteads where particularly good ecological farming or kitchen gardening practices are demonstrated: where yields have increased or where water capturing and recycling is best shown in action. As a community member, if your homestead is selected to be shown to visiting trainees then you also receive a small allowance - thus a further incentive for the community to do the best they can in adapting to ecological practices or reviving traditional knowledge.
For more information on the work of CELUCT:
'Culture Club' Zimbabwe
Saving Seeds in Zimbabwe
Find out more about the work of the Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Management Trust by reading an interview with Chester Chituwu.

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