Community gardens as a strategy for coping with climate shocks in Bikita District, Masvingo, Zimbabwe
Drought is the most important climate shock affecting rural farmers this century. In a bid to reduce the effects of climate shocks, coping strategies are being investigated. Community gardens is one such strategy. The purpose of the study was to objectively look at the dynamics involved in community gardens, that is, the significance the gardens have on poverty, food security and income of rural farmers. The study was carried out in Bikita District, Masvingo Province, Zimbabwe. Rural farmers in this area have been hit hard by drought and the effect climate change has had on agricultural production. The main findings of the study showed that community garden participants are mainly women. Many farmers expressed ignorance on the existence and risks associated with climate shocks but agreed that temperatures have increased and rainfall has decreased in the past decade. Several farmers indicated that they do not acquire income from sale of their crops and vegetables, as most are used for household consumption. However, those getting an income use it for basic necessities, children’s education and maintaining their farm business. Although there were some constraints, water insufficiency being the largest, community gardens provided many benefits, including social, economic and environmental benefits.
Keywords: Community gardens, climate shocks, food security, adaptation, vulnerability, drought, extension services