Interventions by the government through the department of Tsetse Control under the Ministry of Agriculture to eradicate Tsetse fly in the country are improving the livelihoods of villagers and communal farmers in Kariba and Hurungwe who now are able to keep livestock.
Before the interventions, the areas were inhabitable and farmers were not allowed to keep more than two oxen due to Tsetse infestation.
Tsetse flies cause sleeping sickness in humans and Naghana in cattle.
Farmers told journalist during a media tour organised by the Department of Tsetse Control to assess the progress made towards total eradication of parasitic fly in the country that their livelihood has since improved as they now are able to keep as many cattle as they want for tilling, nutritional and economic purposes.
Traditional leaders who spoke to Slymedianews applauded the interventions and progress made so far in the fight against the Trypanosomiasis vector.
“We could not keep cattle or any livestock here. It was a challenge. But with the interventions by the government to control Tsetse, we are now able to keep as many as we want, use them as draft power , raise money to send our children to school and also for nutritional purposes,” said Chief Nebiri of Siakobvu in Kariba.
“We used to go in the game park to poach a little, but now we no longer need game meat, we are able to sustain ourselves using our livestock. The programme the Tsetse Team is also helping conserve our wildlife,: he added.
In Hurungwe, Chief Chundu also said they only were allowed to start keeping more than two cattle from 1982 when the government increased efforts to control Tsetse flies in the area.
“The government intensified the co structure of dip-tanks and we revised that it helped in ensuring our cattle were healthy. This also meant that our cattle were protected from ticks and Tsetse flies and we could keep more.”
“Imagine that we only were allowed to keep two oxen in 1980 and now we can have as many as we like. This is a clear indication of the work that has been done by the Tsetse Control Department to eradicate the parasite.” he said.
Speaking on the issue of improved livelihoods, Chief Chundu said, “ We were unlike any other people in the country, remember castle are a symbol of wealth in the African traditional concept. Our people are now able to provide nutritional needs of their families, sell their cattle and send kids to school. The quality of our life has improved and we now are able to core-exist with the wild animals without any challenges.”
In the last 42 years, the government has managed to clear Tsetse in an area that cover 50 000 square kilometers from an infested area of 80 000 square kilometers in 1980.
The Director of the Tsetse Control Department in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr William Shereni said the remaining 30 000 square kilometers is mostly in wildlife areas.
“Since independence we have managed to totally eradicate Tsetse in an area the cover 50 000 square kilometers and the remaining 30 000 is found in wildlife area.”
“As far as we are concerned, our current programme is prioritizing eradication of Tsetse fly in areas where people are settled,” he said.
At the moment, the area that still is Tsetse infested where people are settled is 4500 square kilometers.
The Tsetse Control Department is targeting to have totally eradicated the Tsetse Fly by 2045.
Other countries such as Botswana have eradicated the parasite.
Besides using control methods such as traps and targets, the department is also working towards sterilization of the male Tsetse through exposing them to radiation.