Zimbabwe’s New CurrencyZimbabwe is a country in Southern Africa that has faced a volatile economy and high poverty and unemployment rates in the last decades. Amid surging inflation, which reached 55% in March 2024, the government announced the creation of a new currency, the ZiG, indexed on market prices and backed by gold. The hope is that this new currency could stabilize the economy and restore market confidence. Zimbabwe’s new currency and poverty situation are now closely interlinked.

Zimbabwe’s Economic Situation

The 2023 elections, which saw President Emmerson Mnangagwa get reelected, largely happened under the sign of economic concerns plaguing the country. The foregone rule of Mugabe left the country in dire financial circumstances. Among other problems, high inflation, corruption and a suspension of aid from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of sanctions have yielded a cutthroat economic situation.

Although real gross domestic growth (GDP) reached 5.5% in 2023, this number is expected to fall to 3.3% in 2024 due to the effects of an El Nino induced drought and the general macroeconomic instability. However, the country’s economic foundations are considered decent as several sectors, such as agriculture and mineral production, remain locally and globally competitive. Yet, structural economic challenges will have to be tackled head-on to fulfill Zimbabwe’s economic potential truly.

Zimbabwe and Poverty

The decades of economic instability have stunted the country’s ability to fight poverty. As of 2023, it’s estimated that 42% of the population still lives in extreme poverty, with a quarter of the population being food insecure. With certain economists claiming the country’s unemployment rate is as high as 85%, much of the burden for the slow progress in diminishing poverty rates falls upon the country’s economic situation.

Zimbabwe’s New Currency and Poverty

Finance Minister Ncube announced the creation of the ZiG (Zim Gold) as part of a series of measures that sought to restore economic stability to the country. Since its election, the government has increased taxes on products such as sugar to repay some of the debt that has caused much of the country’s structural problems.

The new currency, indexed on the country’s gold reserves and precious minerals, would be less volatile than its predecessor. Indeed, backed by hard value items, this would prevent the currency from losing its worth. If successful, the new currency could help restore the country’s economy, where currently 85% of transactions are recorded in the United States (U.S. dollars). The government’s main objective is to regain strength and trust in a national currency as a path to leave the U.S. Dollar.

Suffering from high exchange rates, confidence in a national currency could lend itself to a better overall context for small and private businesses if restored. Zimbabwe’s new currency and poverty both rely upon stability and forthcoming measures.

Looking Ahead

The currency debuted and Zimbabweans were asked to exchange their remaining Zimbabwean Dollars for the ZiG in early April. Since then, mixed reports have come out. The general mistrust of the population regarding the historically chaotic management of the country’s economic institution leads many to remain keen on prioritizing the U.S. Dollar in most exchanges.

However, the ZiG does stay at a much lower exchange rate than its predecessor, the U.S. dollar. The choice of backing up the currency with hard assets still yields questions as economists wonder if the country’s gold and mineral reserves are large enough to back a currency. Whether this new approach will bear its fruits for Zimbabwe’s new currency and poverty alleviation requires close monitoring in the future.

– Felix Stephens

Felix is based in London, UK and focuses on Business and Politics for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Flickr

Water Poverty in Zimbabwe: Save the Children’s ApproachZimbabwe, situated in southern Africa, grapples with serious poverty-related issues, including widespread water poverty. The World Bank reported that 42% of the country’s population lived in extreme poverty in 2019, primarily in remote, poorly connected and densely populated rural areas susceptible to poverty traps. The COVID-19 pandemic may have been responsible for the rise in poverty levels in the country.

The Water Problem

Save the Children emphasizes that water is a basic human right and that the absence of clean, safe water increases the risk of contracting preventable diseases. In April 2024, Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, declared a national disaster over the drought gripping the country, requesting $2 billion in aid to secure food and safe water for millions. The drought has severely impacted not only food and water supplies but also electricity production, which relies heavily on hydroelectric power. Furthermore, the scarcity of clean, safe water led to a significant cholera outbreak, underscoring the urgent nationwide need for constructing boreholes.

Save the Children’s Efforts

Save the Children collaborated with the Beitbridge District Water and Sanitation Sub Committee to provide clean and safe water for drinking and household use. This effort received financial backing from the European Union (EU) through UNICEF as part of the Enhanced Resilience for Vulnerable Households in Zimbabwe (ERVHIZ) project. The initiative focused on rehabilitating dysfunctional boreholes, enabling local access to clean water without the need for long-distance travel.

This safe and clean water serves multiple purposes beyond drinking. Communities can use it to grow vegetables, enhance their diet and improve both health and well-being. Additionally, selling surplus produce can generate profit, creating employment opportunities for many women and girls.

Empowering Communities Through Water Access

Projects like the ERVHIZ have not only improved access to clean water but also empowered communities to take ownership and manage their resources. With functioning boreholes, some communities have established Water Point Management Committees comprising both men and women. Save the Children has provided training to ensure the boreholes are well maintained. A functioning and well-maintained borehole protects the community from cholera and enhances safety for women and girls.

Overall, the rehabilitation of 45 dysfunctional boreholes has improved access to clean water for more than 125,000 people. Moreover, this is just one example of the impactful work Save the Children undertakes to alleviate poverty. It illustrates the transformative effects that providing safe and clean water can have on communities.

Looking Forward

The revitalization of water resources by Save the Children and its partners promises a sustainable path toward community resilience and economic stability. The effective management and maintenance of these resources could be pivotal in breaking the cycle of water poverty in Zimbabwe and ensuring long-term health benefits for the communities involved.

– Cordelia Moore

Cordelia is based in Lewes, UK and focuses on Good News for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Flickr

Elderly Poverty in ZimbabweIn commemoration of the U.N. International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) in 2014, a gathering of elderly individuals convened at the African Unity Square in Zimbabwe, sharing constant accounts of their struggles. They recounted the hurdles encountered in accessing health care services, the instability of their livelihoods, the inadequacies of social security support and the injustices faced, particularly regarding the rights of older women to inheritance. Ten years later, the challenges are still present. In the latest report on the level of poverty in older age in Zimbabwe, the elderly poverty rate stood at 80%, as of 2021.

The absence of an insurance plan is among the existing reasons for old age poverty, particularly affecting elderly women in Zimbabwe. Despite a 9.1% unemployment rate, this factor deprives elderly women, this factor significantly contributes to the deprivation of elderly women, compelling them to care for children and adults in their households.

Social Insurance Schemes

In 1989, Zimbabwe established the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), which now manages the Zimbabwean social insurance programs. This program has begun issuing pensions aligned “with the foreign exchange auction rate every month.” This was evident in the pension payout during the second quarter of 2022, as the minimum pension given was equivalent to $70.

Although Zimbabwe has experienced a positive reform in its social insurance programs, it is notable that the program is only applicable to the formal sector. This is particularly ironic considering Zimbabwe is widely recognized for having one of the largest informal economies globally. Informal employment in Zimbabwe accounts for approximately 75% of its total employment, according to the World Bank report.

Harmonized Social Cash Transfer (HSCT)

The HSCT is a social protection program that focuses on households struggling with labour and food poverty. According to the World Bank, it is “an unconditional cash transfer,” the amount of which is determined by the size of the family. Elderly people benefit from this program, as the majority of them do not have a job due to their age or health. 

However, despite the presence of this program, the elderly people continue to endure the consequences of the country’s socio-economic state. Established in 2011, this program has only managed to reach about 75,677 households in 26 districts out of the total 65 districts in Zimbabwe, the World Bank reports. This illustrates the low coverage rate of the program, primarily due to inadequate funding from the national budget.

Assisted Medical Treatment Orders (AMTO)

According to the World Bank, the AMTO program aims to enhance health care access for the poor and vulnerable by facilitating direct payment of medical bills to public and mission hospitals. In this program, beneficiaries apply directly to the program and are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Although in the first quarter of 2022 about 9,540 beneficiaries benefited from AMTO, with 29 people receiving specialized treatment, the eligibility criteria for AMTO is vague, the World Bank reports.

Humanitarian Assistance Programs in Zimbabwe

Aside from the government-implemented program, the U.N. and other NGOs also have several humanitarian assistance initiatives. Among these programs is Lean Season Assistance (LSA), which aims to address food insecurity among vulnerable households affected by natural disasters, economic crises and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the World Bank. By the end of the 2020/2021 season, approximately 1.5 million food-insecure households had received assistance, including both unconditional in-kind food and cash transfers.

UNICEF supports another humanitarian assistance program, the Emergency Social Cash Transfer (ESCT), which shares a similar mission with HSCT. Introduced in 2020, the program has reached over 113,500 people in 25,000 households, including older individuals. 

Despite the positive effects of these programs on poverty, the World Bank highlights challenges such as low coverage, inadequate benefits and inefficient targeting hindered the impact of poverty reduction in Zimbabwe.

– Teniola Yusuf

Teniola is based in Norwich, UK and focuses on Good News for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Flickr

Young LeadersThe voices of young people have often been dismissed leaving many feeling powerless in the face of global challenges. Young people are frequently told they are too young to understand or affect meaningful change. Despite these barriers, youth activism is gaining momentum. Young people are driving change and their fresh perspectives have proven instrumental in driving progress on global issues, such as poverty. Youth activism is essential to amplify the voices of the marginalized and create long-lasting, transformative change. Here are five young leaders from around the world who are making significant strides towards combating global poverty.

Kelvin Doe – Sierra Leone

Kelvin Doe is an acclaimed young engineer from Sierra Leone. From the age of 10, Doe would scour trash and discarded materials to find parts to use for his innovative projects. He taught himself how to make items such as lights, generators and radios and even went on to create his radio station. He took on the stage name DJ Focus and used his radio station to share music and news about issues such as youth engagement. In addition, he is the founder of the Kelvin Doe Foundation, an NGO with the mission to “provide creative spaces, to nurture communities, ignite a culture of innovation, and inspire civic engagement.” Even with limited resources, Doe was able to utilize materials at his disposal and facilitate change in his community through his work.

Jose Adolfo Quisocala Condori – Peru

At just 7 years old, Jose Adolfo Quisocala Condori founded a bank that changed the trajectory of many kids in his community. Condori wanted to help eradicate poverty in his community while also protecting the environment, with this in mind he started a groundbreaking initiative called the Children’s Eco-Bank. The initiative incentivized students to recycle materials for monetary rewards that would be deposited into their bank accounts. The children’s Eco-Bank stands as a Beacon of Hope showcasing the remarkable impact that even the youngest individuals can have in fostering economic resilience and social change within their communities.

Webster Makombe – Zimbabwe

Webster Makombe is a global youth leader who focuses on improving nutrition and food security challenges. He began his activism career when he was working as a junior parliament member in high school. Through his activism, he dedicates time to lobbying and advocating for nutrition improvement in his home country of Zimbabwe and across the world. Makombe works closely with the movement Scaling up Nutrition, which works on furthering awareness and knowledge about food and nutrition issues. Now studying at the University of Zimbabwe, he focuses on human rights and global health law to deepen its understanding and drive meaningful change in the field

Kehkashan Basu – India/Canada

Kehkashan Basu is a “champion of women’s and children’s rights.” At the age of 12, she founded the Green Hope Foundation, an organization that works in 28 different countries to empower young people and women globally. The foundation aims to combine grassroots advocacy with policy reform to encourage education, development and sustainability for marginalized communities. Basu is a designated United Nations human rights champion and the youngest person to ever be designated as Global Coordinator for the U.N. Environment Program Major Group of Children and Youth. Through her unwavering support for global advocacy, Basu has shown what hard work and dedication can accomplish.

Jaden Lawen – Canada/Lebanon

Jaden Lawen was 17 years old when an explosion devastated his native city of Beirut, Lebanon. Thousands of miles away, in Ontario, Canada he found out about the drasticity of the situation through pictures and videos from friends who experienced the effects of the explosion, many of whom in hospitals. Moved to do something to help the catastrophe, he began the organization Halifax to Beirut with Love to spread awareness and raise funds. Through this Lawen was able to raise more than $100,000 which the Red Cross later distributed to the citizens. Lawen’s dedication to helping his community helped change thousands of lives, including those of his own family and friends.

Helping Shape Global Communities

Despite facing adversity, young leaders have proved time and time again that they can enact meaningful change throughout the world. Through initiatives that deal with economics, charity and advocacy these five young leaders are only some of many who are helping shape global communities. These young leaders enable the world to see what a future might look like if communities can mobilize their youth and inspire younger generations to make change.

– Adrita Quabili
Photo: Unsplash

Reducing Poverty in ZimbabweReducing poverty in Zimbabwe involves understanding the effects of a poor economy and extreme weather events. Based on data from 2019, the UNDP reported in 2023 that an estimated 25.8% of people in Zimbabwe suffer from multidimensional poverty (multi-faceted poverty that goes beyond monetary means). In addition, 26.3% are at risk of falling into multidimensional poverty. Amid severe weather patterns, the nation requires sustainable solutions to help vulnerable and impoverished farming communities establish resilience and protect their livelihoods. Fortunately, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working with communities in Zimbabwe to help them rise out of poverty by centering its efforts around several main focus areas. In particular, ADRA’s environmental efforts provide a lifeline to communities in Zimbabwe facing severe impacts of extreme weather events.

High Unemployment

Environmental changes in Zimbabwe present themselves through droughts, heatwaves and floods and disrupt ecosystems and the food supply chain. This aggravates rural farmers’ income streams and Zimbabwe’s overall economic development. Cities and towns across the country experience heavy monetization due to hyperinflation. This makes basic urban commodities like electricity, food and water too expensive for impoverished people to afford.

Food Insecurity

Environmental changes have also increased food poverty in Zimbabwe. With agriculture serving as the primary source of income for the nation, “low agricultural output” and a growing number of “urban food shortages” have detrimental impacts on urban and rural dwellers.

A more comprehensive picture provided by the World Food Programme illustrates that about 3.8 million people in rural areas and 1.5 million people in the urban population face food insecurity in the nation. This is due to climate challenges and an unstable economy. These environmental changes reduce the primary materials needed to process food in the markets. With the unstable economy, food prices fluctuate, making food security out of reach for impoverished Zimbabwean households.

ADRA’s Environmental Measures

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), a global humanitarian organization that delivers relief and development assistance for sustainable change, is implementing environmental measures for reducing poverty in Zimbabwe. ADRA’s Zimbabwean office spoke to The Borgen Project, saying, “We have experienced climate-induced droughts, El Niño, climate-induced floods, mudslides and cyclones. Farmers are experiencing changing season cycles, animal deaths, etc.”

ADRA celebrated its 40-year anniversary by implementing the #plantafruittree project. This project involves planting 40,000 fruit trees across “schools, farms, homesteads, and institutions” in Zimbabwe from August to December 2023. It aims to reduce extreme weather impacts and raise community health. “As we commemorate ADRA’s 40 years of disaster response, humanitarian relief and development assistance, we are committed to promoting initiatives such as tree plantings that not only can help improve natural air quality, decrease erosion and remove pollution but also generate wellness benefits for residents in all communities,” says ADRA President Michael Kruger on the ADRA website. In August, ADRA planted the first 1,000 trees to commemorate the project.

ADRA’s poverty-alleviating reforestation strategy supports Sustainable Development Goal 13 (Climate Action), purifying the air and establishing resilient ecosystems that can minimize the adverse impacts of extreme weather patterns. It can also provide time for governments to plan out disaster response strategies and improve human health in Zimbabwe.

Looking Ahead

The citizens of Zimbabwe struggle to make ends meet under an impoverished economy, an unstable government and drastic environmental changes. Non-governmental organizations like ADRA wholeheartedly deliver environmental relief to this vulnerable population to practically overcome the issue of reducing poverty in Zimbabwe.

– Amy Contreras
Photo: Unsplash

Agriculture in ZimbabweZimbabwe, a landlocked country in southern Africa, has a long history of agriculture and is home to some of the most fertile land in Africa. However, poverty and agriculture in Zimbabwe have long been intertwined, with many smallholder farmers struggling to make ends meet.

Poverty and Agriculture in Zimbabwe

The World Bank reports that Zimbabwe currently faces a poverty headcount ratio of 39.8% at the national poverty lines, with numerous rural households relying on subsistence farming as their main source of income. Despite these circumstances, the country has the potential to emerge as a significant food producer due to its fertile land and favorable climate conditions.

One of the most prominent challenges for agriculture in Zimbabwe is the limited access to credit and technical assistance. Many small-scale farmers lack the necessary resources and knowledge to invest in their farms and improve productivity. A study published in the Journal of Economic and International Finance reveals that Zimbabwean banks have consistently maintained relatively small agricultural loan portfolios, representing merely 10% to 25% of the total loan books since the country’s current multi-currency system kicked off in 2009. Consequently, this limited access to credit curtails the farmers’ ability to invest in agricultural endeavors and enhance yields.

Additionally, climate change presents barriers for Zimbabwean farmers. Droughts and floods are increasingly afflicting the country, leaving farmers ill-equipped to adapt to these shifting conditions due to limited resources and knowledge. As a result, many farmers have to abandon their crops and rely on food aid for survival.

Efforts to End Poverty in Zimbabwean Agriculture

Despite the many challenges, there are ongoing efforts aiming to address the issue of poverty in the Zimbabwean agricultural sector. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) actively contributes to the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) by focusing on three priority areas aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These priorities encompass strengthening policy and institutional frameworks, enhancing agricultural productivity and competitiveness, bolstering resilience and the adoption of climate-smart agriculture.

The FAO supports these efforts through several initiatives, including policy formulation, capacity development, irrigation schemes, livestock programs, reduction of post-harvest losses, ensuring food safety, managing climate risks, natural resource management and establishing early warning systems. Collaborations with public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and donors further promote community resilience and advocate climate-smart agriculture.

Another example is the Zimbabwe Pfumvudza Programme. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, the Zimbabwe Pfumvudza Programme aims to assist vulnerable households in maize, sunflower, small grains and soya bean production. The program supplies standardized input packages, such as 3kg of seed, 50kg of basal fertilizers and 50kg of top dressing fertilizers, sufficient for a 0.125 ha plot. Also, it actively promotes Conservation Agriculture Principles (CA) to address climate-related challenges.

Looking Ahead

Agriculture currently accounts for a substantial portion of the Zimbabwean GDP (17%) and employs a significant percentage of the population (60-70%). By investing in agriculture, Zimbabwe has the potential to generate employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth in both rural and urban areas.

Despite the challenges facing Zimbabwean farmers, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. For example, efforts to promote agricultural development are gaining momentum, and there is growing recognition of the importance of agriculture in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty.

– Amber Kim
Photo: Flickr

Charities Operating in ZimbabweZimbabwe is a landlocked Southeast African country where poverty is prevalent. With 39.75% of the population living on less than $2.15 a day in 2019, Zimbabwe faces numerous challenges to overcoming poverty, including drought, famine, disease, corruption and civil conflict. A lack of investment in health care and education and a high dependency on low-yield agriculture that is susceptible to drought, pests and disease have exacerbated the situation. Extreme poverty also recently increased from 30% in 2017 to 42% in 2019, affecting over 6.6 million people. Fortunately, numerous charities operating in Zimbabwe are working to address these challenges and alleviate poverty.

5 Charities Operating in Zimbabwe

  1. The Beatrice Project: A U.K.-based charity established in 2015, the Beatrice Project aims “to provide sanitary protection and training to enable young girls to complete their schooling.” The project now provides 300 girls with vital sanitary protection, reducing gender-based inequality and improving access to education. Without projects like this in place, girls are forced to use unhygienic and uncomfortable materials, which can lead to absence from school and impact their future opportunities.
  2. Makomborero: Makomborero aims to improve lives in Zimbabwe through education, enabling people to change their futures by targeting one of the root causes of poverty. The charity takes a variety of approaches to achieve this aim. In addition to providing scholarships and other financial support to break barriers to education, it has built a mobile science laboratory that has been used by over 100 students, works to expand interest in education and increase standards of learning and provides small business training. Through these initiatives, Makomborero is creating opportunities in a country where unemployment was at 7.4% in 2019 while teaching people to generate and manage income using their available resources rather than relying on loans. Over the last 10 years, Makomborero has funded A-Level education for 195 students, supported 50 students through graduation from Zimbabwean universities and helped lift 67 families out of poverty with its entrepreneurial training.
  3. ActionAid: Since 1997, ActionAid has worked to reduce the impacts of poverty, drought and food shortages in Zimbabwe and provided emergency aid to over 44,000 people. After El Niño caused a devastating drought in 2016, Zimbabwe was rife with malnutrition and starvation: some four million people suffered from a lack of food and water. A persistent threat in Zimbabwe, droughts severely reduce crop production and livestock survival and contribute to food insecurity. Insufficient access to food and water leaves many children too weak to attend school, and women and girls must often wait hours to procure limited water resources. One way that ActionAid is helping is by establishing boreholes to provide communities with safe and long-term access to water. This is helping to reduce the spread of diseases like typhoid and cholera while ensuring that fewer children miss out on education due to lack of a basic resource. ActionAid also works to educate farmers on methods for increasing crop yields and provides loans to help families develop small businesses that will reduce their dependency on unreliable agriculture for income.
  4. Save the Children: Save the Children has provided humanitarian relief and sustainable solutions for combating poverty’s effects on children in Zimbabwe since 1983. Consistent with its larger global mission, the charity emphasizes improving Zimbabwean children’s health, safety and access to education to pave the way for a brighter future. In addition to long-term strategies like investing in education and health care, Save the Children provides emergency aid to help save lives and reduce the impact of disasters. For instance, the charity mitigated the 2018 cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe by instituting “a highly effective clean water, sanitation and hygiene program.”’ In 2022, Save the Children lifted 31,000 Zimbabwean children out of poverty, educated 82,000 and provided health care and nourishment for 54,000. Save the Children’s ongoing efforts are helping to ensure that children in Zimbabwe, and around the globe, have a fair chance at life.
  5. Love Zimbabwe: Love Zimbabwe operates in Zimbabwe and Wales, pairing the Wales community of Abergavenny with the Zimbabwe village of Chinamhora to provide targeted relief for those in need while promoting the benefits of fair trade. In addition to raising funds, working to improve education and providing aid for people in Chinamhora, the charity provides skills-based training aimed at equitable economic growth. It helps people in Chinamhora become more self-sufficient by encouraging them to make and sell arts and crafts, promoting their products, helping them start businesses and working to ensure that they receive fair prices. Love Zimbabwe is also working to improve hygiene and ensure reliable access to clean water in Chinamhora, and has established a community center that offers food, support, water and other vital necessities.

Looking Forward

Despite the numerous challenges that the country faces, these five charities operating in Zimbabwe are creating hope for a brighter future. Their work to reduce the impacts of poverty through both immediate aid and long-term initiatives are improving lives for current and future generations in Zimbabwe.

Isla Wright
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in ZimbabweHuman trafficking in Zimbabwe is prevalent as thousands of women fall victim to human trafficking under the guise of job opportunities while children are thrust into child labor. However, Zimbabwe is taking legislative action to combat this.

Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe Amid Economic Instability

Human trafficking in Zimbabwe takes several forms, for example, fraudulent job offers. Traffickers lure victims through international job offers promising as much as $800 per month for jobs as housemaids in countries like Oman and Kuwait. Once there, the women discover that they have fallen victim to a human trafficking syndicate.

Zimbabwe’s government-owned news channel broadcasts stories of women falling victim to these lures in an attempt to raise awareness. The poverty level in Zimbabwe makes desperate people more susceptible to promises of a better future outside of poverty. In 2019, 42% of Zimbabweans lived in extreme poverty below the international poverty line (PPP $1.90/person/day). Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, families facing financial difficulties are even more susceptible to human trafficking lures.

Traffickers Prey on the Poor

In a FairPlanet article by Cyril Zenda published in 2022, Barbra, a Zimbabwean single mother of three children expresses her willingness to risk traveling to the Middle East for a potential job in order to escape her circumstances of poverty. According to Zenda, “The monthly pay of $200-$300 that most of the victims end up getting upon landing in foreign countries is more than what an average peasant earns after a hard toil on the land for an entire year.”

To prevent more citizens from falling victim to human trafficking in Zimbabwe, the government ran education initiatives. In some cases, authorities had to physically block potential victims from boarding airplanes in the country’s airports. In March 2022, Home Affairs permanent secretary, Aaron Nhepera, highlighted the ongoing issue, telling reporters, “We have had also very unfortunate situations where we have repatriated people who have been trafficked to other countries.”

Nhepera, who is also the chair of an inter-ministerial committee on human trafficking, said, at the time, authorities worked on saving 18 Zimbabwean females from Oman where they lived and worked in deplorable, exploitative conditions.

In an interview with FairPlanet, Lloyd Kuveya, assistant director at the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, says to decrease citizens’ susceptibility to human trafficking, a country must “foster conditions that would allow their people to stay and thrive at home. ” This includes establishing “conducive conditions for employment creation and for people to be able to sustain their livelihoods so that they do not take desperate measures for their survival.”

US Department of State Ranking

According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report on Zimbabwe, for the second year in a row, the nation ranks on the Tier 2 Watch List. This ranking means that “Zimbabwe does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.”

The report outlines the reasons for this ranking: The Zimbabwean government “did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period.” Furthermore, Zimbabwean authorities “did not amend its anti-trafficking law to criminalize all forms of trafficking” and did not “identify any trafficking victims or provide care for victims in its designated shelter” nor did it convict any human traffickers.

However, Zimbabwean authorities did take some steps, “investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases and conducting training for law enforcement, immigration officials and other key anti-trafficking officials.”

Cabinet Vote for Anti-Trafficking Law

On April 28, 2022, the Zimbabwean Cabinet approved updates to the nation’s Trafficking in Persons Act in order to address increasing cases of human trafficking in Zimbabwe. The government will introduce the Trafficking in Persons Amendment Bill to strengthen the nation’s existing laws on the matter and detail assistance to victims of human trafficking as well as repatriation steps.

The Trafficking in Persons Amendment Bill will align with the guidelines of the Palermo Protocol, a United Nations protocol to address human trafficking, especially among children and women, “supplementing the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols.” The definition of human trafficking will be expanded to include human trafficking in a variety of forms, such as forced labor and forced marriage.

With the Trafficking in Persons Amendment Bill, the Zimbabwean government takes significant steps to eradicate cases of human trafficking in Zimbabwe, ensuring the protection of human rights for all.

– Jacara Watkins
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe was once a rising economy in Africa, with its mining and agricultural industries propelling the country forward. However, Zimbabweans now struggle with war, internal corruption, hyperinflation and industrial mismanagement. A closer look at the country provides insight into the context of poverty in Zimbabwe.

8 Facts About Poverty in Zimbabwe

  1. Poverty affects 76.3% of Zimbabwean children living in rural areas as of 2020.
  2. Roughly 74% of the population lives on less than  $5.50 a day and the average wage per month is $253.
  3. Half of Zimbabwe’s 13.5 million people live below the food poverty line and about 3.5 million children are chronically hungry.
  4. Approximately 1.3 million Zimbabweans were living with HIV as of 2016. However, the number of HIV cases has been declining since 1997 because of improvements in prevention, treatment and support services.
  5. About 60% of rural Zimbabwean women face period poverty, meaning they lack access to menstrual supplies or education. Girls who experience period poverty miss an estimated 20% of their school life.
  6. Due to famine and the HIV/AIDS crisis, the average life expectancy for a Zimbabwean was only 61 years as of 2018. However, life expectancy has steadily risen since 2002 when it was only 44 years.
  7. In 2019, two million Zimbabweans had no access to safe drinking water due to the impacts of drought.
  8. The government allocates a significant portion of the national budget toward education. As a result, Zimbabwe’s adult literacy rate is 89%, one of the highest in Africa.

Why Poverty is Rampant in Zimbabwe

Since Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980, its economy has primarily depended on its mining and agricultural industries. Zimbabwe’s mining industry has immense potential as the country is home to the Great Dyke, the second-largest platinum deposit globally. Additionally, Zimbabwe has more than 4,000 gold deposits.

However, the country’s mining sector is inefficient — its gold output dropped 30% in the first quarter of 2021. While illegal gold mining hurts the industry, Zimbabwe’s lax mining licensing laws also allow foreign companies to mine minerals at cheap costs for years on end, leading to a lack of incentive to accelerate mineral production.

Furthermore, the Zimbabwean government’s decision to support the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Second Congo War drained its bank reserves, alienated its allies and caused the U.S. and the EU to impose sanctions. Subsequently, Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed. As a result, the government began printing more money, leading to widespread hyperinflation of the Zimbabwean dollar.

NGOs Combating Poverty in Zimbabwe

The situation in Zimbabwe is improving. In 2021, Zimbabwe’s GDP could potentially grow by nearly 3% thanks to increased agricultural production, increased energy production and the resumption of manufacturing and construction activities. Unemployment rates will likely continue to decrease. The rebound is primarily due to increased vaccination efforts, with China providing two million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the country.

In addition, multiple NGOs are fighting poverty in Zimbabwe. For example, Talia’s Women’s Network seeks to end period poverty in the country’s rural areas by helping 250 girls gain access to menstrual products. The project also seeks to provide the girls both with an understanding of the menstrual process and with access to support structures to combat early childhood marriage, gender-based violence and unwanted pregnancies.

Another organization, Action Change, supplies lunch to 400 primary students in Zimbabwe. It also works to break the cycle of poverty by providing resources for education. Zimbabwe spends 93% of the estimated $905 million it allocates toward education on employment costs, leaving only about 7% of the budget for classroom resources. Action Change provides schools with resources such as textbooks.

American Foundation for Children with AIDS helps 3,000 children and guardians who have AIDS by providing them with livestock and food self-sufficiency training. Meanwhile, the organization also provides resources and training to fight food insecurity and ensure that children eat well.

Stimulating the Agriculture Industry

The key to reducing poverty in Zimbabwe is stimulating the country’s agricultural industry. Nearly 66% of Zimbabweans rely on their small farms for survival. However, great inequality in water access exists between the country’s many small farms and few large commercial farms. Equality in water access would increase productivity and income for small farmers. A revitalization of the agricultural sector would spur economic growth and alleviate poverty in Zimbabwe.

Although the country still has barriers to conquer to truly eradicate poverty, it also has immense potential to become an African superpower.

Matthew Port Louis
Photo: Flickr

Gogo OliveSeventy-two percent of Zimbabweans live under the national poverty line, making it the 22nd poorest country in the world. Gogo Olive is a charity whose focus is to mitigate some of the problems faced by Zimbabweans, specifically women. Here is how one charity is changing the lives of Zimbabwean women.

The Problem: Difficulty Making a Living

One hardship faced by many women is HIV/AIDS, a disease that affected 1.3 million Zimbabweans in 2016. This results in many widowed parents who have to provide for their families by themselves. Providing for their households, however, is a difficult task when job opportunities are so limited. The unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is currently at 11.3 percent, and increases when excluding the large numbers of subsistence farmers and those working in the informal economy. This, however, is not the main problem for Zimbabweans.

The real problem, according to the International Labour Organization, is the poor quality of employment, characterized by low wages, no sick leave for employees and poor working conditions. In this way, the great need in Zimbabwe is decent jobs. Gogo Olive has met this need by employing women to knit goods, primarily in the form of knitted animals.

The Solution: Gogo Olive

Gogo Olive was founded by Julie Hagan as a way to create jobs for six women through knitting. Since its inception in 2008, the charity has grown to include about 80 knitters who produce hundreds of these knitted animals each month. According to the website, “Knitting was chosen as it only requires basic materials and can be done anywhere and at anytime, which suits the lifestyle of a Zimbabwean woman.”

The charity operates on two levels. Gogo Olive Knits creates jobs and generates income for women by selling their knitted products. Gogo Olive Cares focuses on meeting the other needs of the women. This includes establishing savings plans, running educational workshops, distributing care packages, and setting up an emergency fund to help with health costs and school fees. This is how one charity is changing the lives of Zimbabwean women: they not only provide an income, they also include additional benefits that have no doubt helped the poor greatly.

Gogo Olive Knits presents a flexible way to earn income. The knitters are paid monthly for each product they produce. According to Ruth Hagan, they can earn up to $250 monthly.

An additional benefit of working for Gogo Olive is the educational workshops. The majority of the knitters have had little education, a problem which keeps them in the poverty trap. Some of the topics covered are budgeting, HIV/AIDS awareness, healthcare, single parenting and farming techniques.

Beyond Income: Gogo Olive Cares

Gogo Olive Cares also provides an emergency fund for people in special circumstances. This includes school fees for their children and medical fees for medication or treatment that the women would otherwise be unable to afford. Ruth Hagan shared a story about one of the knitters who received a payment from the emergency fund. “In January, one of our knitters accessed the fund which allowed her to have a hip replacement following living in considerable pain for a number of years.” The knitter, Florence, is now back at work and able to walk with a crutch.

The benefits extend far beyond simply meeting physical needs. Ruth explains, “We love that we are able to teach a skill and offer employment to many ladies. Not only does this allow them to make enough money to feed their children and pay for school fees but it also gives them each a sense of value and worth as they have meaningful occupation.”

Ruth Hagan said of the experience, “It is great to be a part of positively impacting lives of so many in Zimbabwe.” Seeing how one charity is changing the lives of Zimbabwean women goes to show that any good deed, big or small, can have an immense impact.

– Olivia Booth
Photo: Flickr