New broom at Environment Africa

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IT was a tearful handover of the reins from Environment Africa’s founder Charlene Hewatt to Innocent Hodzonge the regional director at the Annual General Meeting recently.
Reading through her parting words, one could tell that letting go was hard and keeping the tears from rolling back was not an easy task.
From the emotional breakdown, it was easy to visualise that each community she had walked and worked in had left a mark in her life.
“To all the amazing individuals and communities I have worked with, I say thank you for your wonderful support and inspiration which has enabled me to continue with development work. For this I am truly grateful,” said Hewatt.
When Hewatt choked reading this part of her prepared speech, the guest of honour, the district administrator for Zvimba, Andrew Tizora, and the new board chair, Ebbie Dengu, stood up to comfort her.
Hewatt hands over ‘29 years of passion, dedication and commitment’ and must ‘hand the baton to others to take the organisation to greater heights’.
Word has it Hewatt has relocated to Hwange where she has a new project.
It is timely.
Victoria Falls has been declared a Special Economic Zone and so much is happening in terms of investment in areas of business, tourism and environment.
Coincidentally, Hewatt leaves at the same time that the board chairman, Albert Katsande, also leaves the reins to Ebbie Dengu.
The two have promised their continued support for the organisation.
Environment Africa is a private voluntary organisation established in 1990 and is committed to sustainable development projects.
Its activities range from raising awareness and empowering communities to protect, conserve and restore their environment as well as improve their livelihoods.
Environment Africa, supported by Retail Association of Zimbabwe that includes OK Zimbabwe Limited, TM Supermarkets, SPAR and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), launched the Zimbabwe national campaign on clean ups with a key focus on raising awareness among motorists not to throw litter out of vehicles.
The initiative has seen recycled vehicle litter bags being developed and distributed to motorists, taxis, buses and trucks.
Speaking during the event, Tizora said Hewatt’s commitment to environmental issues was indispputable.
Said Tizora: “Her commitment towards environmental issues should reinvigorate our efforts as we champion environmental issues.
“Pollution, poor waste management, deforestation, land degradation, veld fires and biodiversity loss are not problems confined to the rural areas.
“The plastics are a serious infestation but at least can be managed through the initiative of the plastic pavers.
“Let us try to limit the challenges of waste together with the manufacturers of these.
“I would like to commend one thing that Environment Africa has managed to do, which is making sure communities are part of projects to ensure continuity even when they are no longer on the ground.”
Celebrating the achievements for the year 2017, the former regional director, now chief executive officer, Innocent Hodzonge, said the bold moves taken last year are ideal for competence.
Said Hodzonge: “2017 has been no exception as we undertook tremendous change in how we are structured in the organisation. These bold moves that we take whenever necessary will ensure our organisation weaves its way into the future with more competence and confidence.
“These changes will usher in, in 2018, a leaner and pragmatic delivery structure. Forty-six innovative women’s savings groups in Hwange made huge savings of over US$92 000 from contributing as little as 50 US cents per week.
“This created a culture of saving among the women and brought opportunities for starting individual enterprises through accessing local loans.
“Exciting life changing stories have been told by these women.
“Some women have testified that having their children barred from attending school is a thing of the past as they are now engaged in initiatives that are generating incomes to support these needs.
“In Zvimba, there are stories where households are rediscovering traditional grains that had long been abandoned in that area. These households have been able to diversify their daily diets thereby improving nutrition security in the home.
“The farmers also boasted high yields from the conservation agriculture plots which have improved most households’ access to basic grains and pulses to all year round.
“As we move into 2018, we want to strengthen our organisation further. Our strength is derived from all of you becoming subscribed member of Environment Africa.”
Of the US$1 389 334 million acquired for the year, 60 percent was spent in Zimbabwe with the rest shared in Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi.
The bulk of that 60 percent in Zimbabwe was spent in improving the livelihoods of people in the communities where Environment Africa operates in.

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