By Regis Nhumba
Climate change has led to disruption of families as most parents move out of the country to look for jobs so as to be able to support their families.
Darlein Sagiya (24) is a young woman who lives in the rural areas in Masvingo province. Darlein says from the age of 14, she was responsible for taking care of her siblings following the departure of their parents to South Africa to look for jobs. She says her parents were smallholder farmers who depended on rain-fed farming.
“Over the years, our harvests dropped to levels where we were surviving on food hand-outs from the government and other non-governmental organisations. My parents generated income through selling crop yields and livestock. Due to droughts, our livestock died and the crops were failing to thrive. My father realised that there was no way out except to leave the country to look for a job in South Africa. After a year, he had settled to a permanent job and asked my mother to join him,” says Darlein.
Darlein says although her parents were sending money and groceries, the burden of taking care of herself and her siblings was too much and she was struggling to balance with school work. She says it was through hard work that she passed her Advanced Level examinations to secure a place at a local university.
“Although my parents are supporting me, it is not enough because my little brothers and sisters also need support. The climate crisis means that we cannot produce food for ourselves. We have to buy all the food that we eat. Our country has an agro based economy and people are losing jobs because of the climate crisis. I am worried that even after graduating, I may fail to get a job,” says Darlein.
Darlein says children whose parents have gone to the diaspora live precariously as they do not have parental guidance.
“I am fortunate that I managed to focus on my education and have done well. Some children have turned to all kinds of misdemeanours. Some engage in sex work resulting in early pregnancies, sexual ill-health or child marriage. Some boys turn to drug abuse and other criminal behaviours. It is tough to grow up without parents,” says Darlein.
Darlein says communities should embark on climate mitigation strategies such as building dams and water harvesting so as to improve food production. She says rain-fed farming is no longer practical as rainfall patterns are now erratic.