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Food-for-Work Builds Esteem, Communities

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HEBRON MOYO is a man with a purpose as he pushes the wheelbarrow of newly baked bricks toward a neat stack at the building site of the Vutsanana Secondary School in Mberengwa district.

"On a good day we can mold 2,000 bricks, and we get at least 70 kg [154 pounds] of maize for 1,000 bricks," says Mr. Moyo, a member of a youth group of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Zimbabwe.

Apart from sustaining the morale of food-aid recipients, the food-for-work principle is also improving community facilities and infrastructure.

Moyo is part of a church cooperative of youths from 40 families who benefit from this food-for-work program in the southern tip of Midlands Province. He said that his family - mother, three brothers, and a sister - would go hungry if it was not for the food he earns by making bricks.

"Some of the youths are doing construction work in return for maize and others are making the bricks," says Andrew Phiri, a senior teacher at the school.

The atmosphere here is vastly different from the mood of resignation one encounters from the recipients of government food aid, who must endure a labyrinth of bureaucracy and line up for hours to receive a meager 5 kg (11 pounds) per person per month allocation of grain.

Under food-for-work plans, communities select the type of work that will be most beneficial: road repairs, building latrines and wells, digging or de-silting small dams and irrigation canals. The work is carried out under technical supervision.

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