A peace building and conflict resolution initiative by the Wedza Residents Development Initiative Trust (WERDIT) is making strides in terms of social cohesion and women empowerment within Wedza District.
The initiative aims to bring together locals, traditional leaders, the local authority and other decision makers within Wards 5 and 6 in Wedza district.
Interviewed villagers commended the programme for building peace and rallying villagers towards developmental programmes.
The programme focuses on identifying areas of conflict while bringing together interested parties together to find amicable solutions.
Some of the areas of conflict include land boundaries, disputes over grazing land, domestic violence and conflicts between the locals and their local authority.
Farai Chishaka from Chigwedere village said as a result of their association with WERDIT, they had been equipped with knowledge on their constitutional rights as well as the imperative need to uphold peace.
"We are coming together as villagers to identify issues affecting communities and we have also managed to resolve these conflicts in an amicable manner. This is helping us move forward together towards development because without peace there cannot be any meaningful development in the communities," said Chishaka.
He added that cases of domestic violence had reduced significantly as villagers continue to learn from the peace building and conflict resolution initiatives.
Another beneficiary of the programme, Morris Chowezha said women access to land has improved within Ward 5 and 6 of Wedza district owing to sensitization programmes by WERDIT.
"There was a challenge of women failing to access agricultural land because of some traditional norms and practices but WERDIT managed to bring traditional leaders on board and educated them on the need to uphold womens' rights including access to land. At the moment, we have seen great improvements as women are now able to access agricultural land while cases of violence against the women have reduced," said Chowezha.
For Village Head, Chipo Chinyama, WERDIT programmes have been an eye opener for most women.
"As women, we were hesitant to participate in development programmes but thanks to WERDIT, we now have the courage to participate in these programmes. WERDIT ensured our participation in development programmes because in the past we were either sidelined or in some cases we were hesitant to participate in these programmes," said Chinyama.
She said women have also been inspired by WERDIT to participate in electoral processes.
"We have also learnt that as women, we need to rise to the occasion and take positions of authority hence our motivation to take part in electoral processes and be able to take the lead in development processes in our area," said Chinyama.
WERDIT Director, George Makoni had the local leadership for embracing the peace building initiatives. He expressed optimism that the programmes would stimulate development projects within Wedza district.