Women in the Chivi District
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southeast Africa. It is a member of the United Nations, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union. Many know it for its gold and agriculture-based economy as well as its status of being a tourist destination. The Chivi district, specifically, is a district located in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe. This district is known for being quite arid and prone to drought. Natural disasters and changing weather patterns have exacerbated the arid climate and drought in the region.

While changing weather patterns and environmental disasters have been negatively affecting the area, women have been working to combat the more unfavorable effects, such as poverty. A 2012 study on the Chivi District shows that around 33.8% of people in the district suffer from chronic malnutrition. Malnutrition is one of the effects of extreme poverty that women in the district are aiming to combat. This article will focus on the role of women in the Chivi district in battling the effects of poverty and the challenges they face in their mission.

The Role of Women in Rural Economies

Overall, women play an important role in developing countries. A study by Hilda Jaka and Elvin Shava has explained that in more rural countries, such as Zimbabwe, women contribute greatly to the reduction of poverty. They help reduce poverty by making important improvements to rural economies. These improvements often come in the form of livelihoods as farm laborers or wage laborers. They also manage and operate complex households and families. Depending on the region, rural women often work in different sectors of agriculture. In the case of the Chivi district, women uphold the economy through their work in irrigation and pottery.

The Role of Women in Chivi

With a population of 90,170 women and 75,879 men in the district, women make up a larger portion of the population in Chivi. Women in this region often spend the majority of their time working on unpaid chores that are necessary for survival. During cropping season in Chivi, women often tend to contribute by working in irrigation. During the agricultural off-season times, many of the women in Chivi are focused on tasks such as pottery, crocheting, sewing and beer-brewing as means to earn extra income for their families. The work of women in this region contributes greatly to the overall economy as they play key roles in society by providing for their families and communities.

Challenges That Women in Chivi are Facing

Although women play an elemental role in the region’s economy, there are still a number of challenges that they face. One of the main challenges women face in this region is the lack of access to competitive markets. The local Chivi government does not provide ready markets, so women often have to travel to other areas in order to sell their goods (pottery, cloth, etc.). There is no direct transport to these areas so women oftentimes have to walk many miles each day. Changing climate patterns is another problem that women in the area are facing. Environmental disasters, in general, have made it harder for agriculture, which is one of the main means of livelihood for women in the region. These cause high temperatures that negatively impact crop production. Women in Chivi are also not very educated about this matter and have no tools to mitigate it.

Conclusion

Women play a large part in the Chivi district and its economy. Whether working as a laborer in agriculture or making pottery and other sellable goods, women are doing something to help their local economy year-round. While they do face challenges such as a lack of education about changing climate patterns and limited access to competitive markets, they still manage to contribute greatly to society. Their contributions to society not only aid their community and family but also helps in reducing global poverty.

– Timothy Ginter
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe
Every year, the country of Zimbabwe faces the ever-present issue of human trafficking. The targets of human trafficking in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world are typically women and children whom the traffickers exploit as free labor for their businesses. This business of human trafficking is especially prevalent in Zimbabwe, rooting itself into the country similar to weeds. However, there is hope as Zimbabwe can pass legislation to suppress human trafficking. 

Targets of Human Trafficking in Zimbabwe

Every year, the United States Department of State conducts reports on the various levels of human trafficking in countries across the world. The U.S. Department of State uses three different criteria to determine a country’s level of human trafficking.

  • “Tier 1: Countries and territories whose governments fully comply with the minimum standards.
  • Tier 2: Countries and territories whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
  • Tier 2 Watch List: Countries and territories whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards and the estimated number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing and the country is not taking proportional concrete actions.”

As of 2023, the U.S. Department of State recognizes Zimbabwe as a Tier 2 watch list. According to the report, human trafficking in Zimbabwe uses the victims of trafficking for various reasons including, mining for gold and diamonds, sex trafficking, cattle herding, domestic service and agriculture. About 71% of children who are victims of human trafficking work in the agricultural industry of Zimbabwe, where the children labor on tobacco, sugarcane and cotton farms. Another part of working in the agricultural sector is forestry and fishing, in which children harvest and pack goods.

The report also states that children ages 9-14 are used as “nannies, housemaids, and gardeners in urban areas and mining communities,” where employers withhold wages and deny the children access to school, as an incentive for the children to work. Zimbabwe also has multiple traditional practices which make young girls subject to trafficking including trading girls for food or money and using girls as “replacement brides” for deceased family members.

The Failure of Zimbabwe’s Legislation

In 2019, Zimbabwe released a three-year plan with hopes of reducing human trafficking. Strategies named in the plan to lower human trafficking include:

  • To improve access to services for victims of trafficking (VOT)
  • To reduce bribery corruption in trafficking in persons (TiP) cases
  • To offer specialized continuous training for investigators
  • To facilitate the provision of appropriate shelter and psycho-social support services to identified VOT
  • To enhance cooperation at international levels

Each of these strategies fundamentally failed, which the U.S. Department of State goes into detail about in their 2022 report on Zimbabwe.

VOT access to services has not seen significant improvement. In fact, the Zimbabwean government has still held no trials for 17 VOT from a case in 2016, regardless of the victims urging for a trial. The report states that bribery is still highly prevalent too. The U.S. Department of State has reported one example of this in which border officers accept bribes in exchange for allowing unauthorized crossings over the border.

The US Department of State’s Report on Investigations

The report also finds judges accepting payments of “farms and houses” to turn a blind eye in court. While 500 officers and 10 immigration officers have received training on trafficking, the government did not provide effective procedures to investigate cases. The lack of proper procedures results in law enforcement dishing out wage infractions or immigration violations, instead of human trafficking violations.

Shelter for VOT is lacking as well, in which traffickers kidnap children from one of the government-run homes and force the children to work on citrus farms in Mazowe. Cooperation at the International level requires improvement as well. One key way Zimbabwe is not in cooperation at the International level is concerning how they write their laws on human trafficking. Zimbabwe’s law regarding human trafficking, the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Act, is not consistent with International law by way of not defining “exploitation” adequately. This leaves Zimbabwe without “comprehensive prohibitions of trafficking crimes.”

Improvements by the Zimbabwean Government

The Zimbabwe government hopes 2023 will be a year of improvement for the human trafficking situation. In April 2022, the Information Minister of Zimbabwe, Monica Mutsvangwa informed the media that the government will introduce a Trafficking in Persons Bill. The contents of this bill are focusing on strengthening the current laws regarding human trafficking in Zimbabwe. This bill also contains the definition of “service exploitation.” Introducing this definition will allow for much less leeway for human traffickers, as there will be strong legal guidelines on what is technically human trafficking.

The situation of human trafficking in Zimbabwe is deep-rooted and corruption has accelerated it. While the level of human trafficking in Zimbabwe is not ideal by any measure, it is seeing improvement. With the hopes of new legislation on the horizon, Zimbabwe could see massive changes in 2023 which would drastically improve the situation for the country.

– David Keenan
Photo: Flickr

USAID Programs in ZimbabweSince Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, USAID has provided the country with over $3.2 billion in developmental assistance. USAID programs in Zimbabwe have focused on building the country’s health infrastructure, strengthening democratic processes and boosting economic growth. With alarming rates of HIV/AIDS, alongside hindered economic development over the past 30 years, USAID programs like Feed the Future’s FARM Initiative and investments in U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, are proving to be especially significant in developmental progress. 

HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe

In 1991, HIV rates in Zimbabwe reached as high as 49.6% of citizens aged 15-49. This means that, just 32 years ago, about half of Zimbabwe’s adult population was HIV-positive.

While the statistic has dramatically improved to 2.4% in 2021, HIV remains a pressing health concern in the country.  According to WHO (World Health Organization), HIV infection rates were the same in 2021 as in 2020, with as many as “4,000 new infections every day in 2021.” Under PEPFAR (U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), USAID’s investment is changing lives for Zimbabweans. WHO also reported that, of these new infections, there seemed to be “key populations”: sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people in prisons, and transgender people.” Based on these statistics, PEPFAR has begun releasing and administering Cabotegravir (CAB-LA), a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention — with a focus on delivery to those “sidelined from access to health care because of laws and societal segregation.”

The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) approved the long-acting injectable in November of 2022, Zimbabwe being the first country in Africa to approve it.

Agriculture in Zimbabwe

Another way USAID is contributing to Zimbabwe’s development is through agricultural support. Through its Feed the Future program, USAID has offered assistance in rural employment, agricultural productivity and economic development to over 200,000 smallholder farmers.

Zimbabwe’s Fostering Agribusiness for Resilient Markers Activity (FARM), another USAID assistance program, has also had a major involvement in farming development. Established in 2020 and designed to run through June 30, 2025, FARM aims to support Zimbabweans through “climate-smart increased production, productivity, and market linkages,” essentially protecting and commercializing smallholder farmers to facilitate long-term growth. Two ways FARM aims to accomplish this goal, according to USAID, is through:

  1. “Livelihoods opportunities and incomes diversified and expanded through establishing resilient and sustainable market linkages; increased off-farm income opportunities; increased agricultural production and productivity; increased access to appropriate finance; increased adoption of good animal husbandry practices (GAHPs), good agricultural practices (GAPs) and climate-smart technologies and increased investments along the targeted value chains.”

  2. “Improved hygiene- and nutrition-related behaviors through increasing nutrition-sensitive agricultural production and productivity and increased incomes coupled with training and technical assistance on good household nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation practices.”

Thus, USAID’s agricultural assistance programs not only support farmers but equip smallholder farmers with the resources they need to sustain agricultural commerce.

Democracy Building in Zimbabwe

USAID also focuses on democracy, human rights and governance in Zimbabwe. The agency’s work in this regard started in November 1999 in order to assist with a peaceful transition of power amid recent elections. Overall, USAID “strengthens accountability systems by assisting Parliament to increase their independence and effectiveness, improves inclusive electoral processes to better reflect citizen voices, expands access to information, and activates mechanisms for citizen advocacy and oversight.”

Looking Forward

With developmental assistance through USAID’s programs in Zimbabwe, life-threatening diseases like HIV are on the decline, and the economy is growing far more independent through agricultural development assistance. By providing life-saving medicine and prevention practices, alongside crucial agricultural developmental support and democracy building, USAID is aiding Zimbabwe in building a healthy future for all. 

– Micaella Balderrama
Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in Zimbabwe
According to a 2022 press release by UNICEF, in Zimbabwe, one out of three young girls enters into marriage before reaching their 18th birthday. Child marriage often results from gender disparities in developing countries. Girls Not Brides explains that “child marriage is rooted in gender inequality” and “poverty, lack of education, harmful social norms and practices and insecurity” exacerbate it. Child marriage in Zimbabwe limits future possibilities for women and perpetuates cycles of poverty.

Child Marriage in Zimbabwe: Contributing Factors

By June 2021, the number of individuals living in extreme poverty in Zimbabwe rose to almost 8 million. The Guardian reported that “child marriage in Zimbabwe is often driven by poverty.” Families living in poverty often push their young daughters into marriage because the “bride price” the family receives will reduce the household’s financial burden.

Aside from economic reasons, there is a cultural and religious ideology that condones marrying off young girls. Specifically, indigenous apostolic religious groups have a higher number of child marriages. The doctrine of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe directs that girls must wed between the ages of 12 and 16 in order to prevent premarital sexual relations. Furthermore, many indigenous apostolic churches in Zimbabwe prohibit girls from returning to school once married.

Whereas 33% of girls in Zimbabwe entered into marriage before the age of 18, for boys, this rate is just 2%. The lack of education among women further pushes them into oppression, limiting job prospects and forcing women to rely on their husbands economically. According to a UNICEF statistic, as of 2021, only 14% of females in Zimbabwe attain an upper secondary education.

Human Rights Watch highlights the implications of child marriage: “Child marriage in Africa often ends a girl’s education, exposes her to domestic violence and grave health risks from early childbearing and HIV and traps her in poverty.”

The Women Advocacy Project (WAP) Zimbabwe

In efforts to decrease child marriage in Zimbabwe, the Women Advocacy Project Zimbabwe, a partner of U.S.-based The Advocacy Project, provides the support young girls need to thrive. The specific child marriage program looks to raise $5,000 via the GlobalGiving platform to train five local Zimbabwean girls to become community leaders. As leaders, these girls will be able to action community-wide change to bring an end to child marriage in Zimbabwe. These girl leaders will educate others about women’s rights, the far-reaching implications of child marriage, the benefits of obtaining an education and how to safeguard oneself from abuse.

The leaders will also “identify 25 girls in each of their communities who are at risk of marrying early and assist them in choosing better options,” the project page says. Each leader will form a “Give Us Books, Not Husbands” club in their local communities. The club aims to change beliefs and attitudes regarding child marriage.

WAP expects the project to reduce rates of child marriage in Zimbabwe and increase school attendance and completion rates among girls.

The Good News

The advocacy work of organizations has created lasting impacts. On May 27, 2022, the President of Zimbabwe signed into law the Marriages Act, legally prohibiting the marriage of individuals younger than 18. This means that child marriage is now a criminal offense.

The piece of legislation brings hope to the fight against child marriage, however, implementation and enforcement will play a critical role in actioning change.

– Micaela Carrillo
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Mental Health in Zimbabwe
The Friendship Bench has revolutionized the field of mental health in Zimbabwe and beyond. Due to its great localized success, 32 Friendship Benches have undergone installation around stadiums at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Mental Health in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa, with 70% of the population living below the poverty line. This economic state has caused many struggles for the citizens, such as inadequate nutrition and the prevalence of diseases. Mental health is also a major issue, but many often neglect it. Legislation regarding mental health policy is outdated, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that “There is a shortage of human resources for mental health in Zimbabwe, in part a result of the emigration of locally trained professionals due to economic instability.”

Mental health is an important issue for the citizens of any country. Therefore, mental health care and support are a necessary part of a nation’s health system. UNICEF Zimbabwe has called for more assistance for youth and adolescents in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the country lacks the resources to address the issue in its entirety. This challenge has required creative solutions from local NGOs, an example being the Friendship Bench Project.

The Birth of the Friendship Bench

Since 2006, the Friendship Bench has trained more than 600 mentors to offer support on benches in communities around Zimbabwe. These volunteers offer assistance using techniques based on cognitive behavioral therapy and are often from the communities in which they practice. This connection allows a deeper understanding of the struggles that community members face. Citizens engage in positive dialogue with these volunteers, usually in 45-minute segments. In the past 16 years, the project has extended to Malawi, Zanzibar and New York City. In the future, it plans to expand in order to offer more care for youth and adolescents.

Proven Success

In 2016, JAMA Network produced a clinical trial regarding the potential impact of the Friendship Benches and the care they provide. Results indicated that “the group from the Friendship Bench had a significant decrease in depressive symptoms, compared to the control group.” These impacts on mental health in Zimbabwe prove that projects like this may be effective in countries with poor mental health resources.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup

Due to the success of the Friendship Bench in Zimbabwe, several groups have worked together to install 32 benches at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. They will be located around the different stadiums, and will each represent a different participating international team. Organizers hope that the benches will spark a conversation around the importance of mental health care and focus. The colorful details of these benches are an added feature to catch the attention of players and spectators to spread awareness in a creative and positive format.

The success of the Friendship Bench Project on mental health in Zimbabwe is clear, and its impacts internationally suggest a positive future for growth in mental health care, even in nations with limited resources.

– Hailey Dooley
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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

Higher Education in Zimbabwe
In 2020, the population in Zimbabwe numbered 14.9 million people. According to education statistics from 2018, 50,699 female students and 43,432 male students enrolled in higher education in Zimbabwe. More female students enroll overall, particularly in universities specializing in the arts, education and social studies. However, male students do outnumber female students in universities that offer exceptional training in science and technology.

Building National Education Reform

Higher education in Zimbabwe plays a significant role in the social, economic and political context of the country. Citizens have long since demanded public-private cooperation from their government in providing higher education. In 1980, Zimbabwe’s new self-government declared national education reform. Since then, the government’s focus has been to provide free and equal education and educational resources. As a result, the number of students in secondary education increases exponentially each following year. The increased number of students attending higher education in Zimbabwe also heightened the need for more teachers. Now, Zimbabwe is home to numerous universities. Of these, the top two are the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).

Top Universities

The University of Zimbabwe is the oldest university in the country, offering diplomas and certificates in various studies. Located in Harare, it has awarded degrees to more than 75,000 graduates since 1955. Since the foundation stone was first laid on Mount Pleasant and donated land launched the building of the college farm, UZ ranked as an independent institution of higher education and research. Many industries seek out UZ graduates including commerce, government, engineering, veterinary science and more.

The National University of Science and Technology is the second oldest and largest university in Zimbabwe, following UZ. In 1991, the higher education school was a nonprofit public school located in Bulawayo with an enrollment of 270 full-time students. Now sporting some 9,000 students, it offers programs that lead to recognized higher degrees such as bachelor’s, master and doctorate degrees in many areas of study. Specifically, NUST offers specialization in the tools for teaching, research and navigating the industries of sciences and technology.

COVID-19, Education and WhatsApp

Although higher education in Zimbabwe has advanced tremendously over the years, COVID-19 slowed the process down. To save the school year, teachers at a university in Zimbabwe had to come up with a solution to be still able to teach their students. That solution was through WhatsApp. Students use WhatsApp to communicate with their teachers effectively and see lectures during these unexpected times. WhatsApp is a simple solution that was easy to connect the students with and did not hurt anyone financially. WhatsApp has now been an adaption to the postgraduate program.

A Shining Example

Though it has not been easy, Zimbabwe’s path to higher education serves as an inspirational example for nations worldwide. From working towards universal primary education in the 1980s to turning out top university graduates in the 2020s, Zimbabwe serves its population well by offering clear paths to higher education.

– Alexis King
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

About Hunger in Zimbabwe
The Republic of Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Once known as the “Jewel of Africa” for its “vibrant industries, an internationally-acclaimed social security net and abundant natural resources” after its independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has seen a dramatic decline in its economy and development. This has led to increasing rates of food insecurity and concerns about hunger in Zimbabwe. In 2020, Zimbabwe endured one of the most severe food crises in decades due to compounding issues such as “poor agricultural seasons, hyperinflation, failed economic and agricultural policies and the consequences of Cyclone Idai and the COVID-19 pandemic.” As a result, more than six million Zimbabweans required urgent humanitarian assistance.

Causes of Hunger in Zimbabwe

  • Poor Weather Conditions: In March 2019, Cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe causing cyclone-induced rains, catastrophic floodings and massive landslides. Then, six months later, the country dealt with “extreme drought in the middle of peak farming season.” This crisis came amid recovery “from the major 2014-16 El Niño-induced drought.” Zimbabwe’s economy is significantly agriculture-based with subsistence farmers making up about 75% of the population in 2020 and holding the responsibility to produce most of Zimbabwe’s food sources. Such back-to-back climate-related disasters are detrimental to the production of maize, a water-intensive crop and the principal food crop, and overall harvests. Due to poor rains and erratic weather conditions impacting livelihoods, during the 2019-2020 lean season, about 5.5 million rural Zimbabweans suffered from food insecurity.
  • Hyperinflation: In June 2019, the Zimbabwean government passed a law “banning the use of the U.S. dollar for local transactions and instead implemented the Zimbabwe Dollar (ZWL) as the only acceptable national currency.” A lack of “faith in the new currency” and a general non-acceptance of the ZWL by suppliers left retailers unable to purchase “basic food imports.” These factors have caused the prices of goods to skyrocket. Hyperinflation and the currency shortage mean that many households cannot afford to meet their basic food needs with the cost of maize “more than doubling in June” 2020.
  • Widespread Poverty: This series of economic and climatic shocks has caused poverty to rise sharply. The national poverty rate in Zimbabwe rose “from 32.2 % in 2001 to 38.3 % in 2019, growing at an average annual rate of 10.32%.” Furthermore, the extreme poverty rate jumped from 30% in 2013 to 42% in 2019 with those living below the extreme poverty line doubling “from three million in 2011 to 6.6 million in 2019.” The World Bank says that rural people account for 90% of Zimbabwe’s extreme poor, with children making up 1.6 million of the extremely impoverished.
  • The COVID-19 Pandemic: The onset of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns delivered another economic shock to the country, worsening the unemployment and poverty rates. In July 2020, a survey by the World Bank revealed that “nearly 500,000 households had one member who had lost her or his job” due to the business closures from the lockdowns. By June 2020, 23% of the most impoverished people and 20% of the non-impoverished, all of whom had employment before COVID-19, “had lost their jobs,” compounding the already high unemployment numbers. The pandemic itself pushed 1.3 million Zimbabweans into extreme impoverishment, plummeting the numbers to 7.9 million extremely impoverished Zimbabweans. The loss of jobs and income means more people lack access to staple foods and basic resources.
  • Malnutrition: Nutrient deficiencies are prevalent throughout Zimbabwe with “eight of Zimbabwe’s 59 districts” having an unprecedented acute malnutrition rate of more than 5% in 2020. Moreover, Zimbabwe’s Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2019 reveals that women and children bear the brunt of this crisis as one in four children younger than five faced stunting and the “risk of impaired physical and cognitive growth.” Furthermore, Zimbabwe stands as one of 10 nations whereby more than 80% of children between six to 23 months do not consume the minimum acceptable diet in 2020. As a result of poverty and its consequences, such as hunger, some children drop out of school and face child marriages. In addition, impoverished females are at higher risk of sexual exploitation and domestic violence because they lack economic independence.

Initiatives to Curb Hunger in Zimbabwe

Immediate reform and initiatives are necessary to address concerns about hunger in Zimbabwe on a large scale. One such initiative is Mary’s Meals, a charity organization aimed at providing meals to the world’s impoverished children each school day. Since its founding in 2002, Mary’s Meals has spread across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, South America and Eastern Europe and now provides meals to more than two million children for “every day they attend school.” Mary’s Meals began working in the rural Tsholotsho District of Zimbabwe in 2018 and has since provided more than 73,000 children with nutritious daily meals.

Room for Growth

The Republic of Zimbabwe is on the road to recovering from the hurdles delaying its growth. Fortunately, the World Bank predicts that Zimbabwe could “have an economic rebound in 2022 with a bumper harvest expected to ensure most rural families have enough to eat and leading the economy to 3.9% growth.” With continued commitments to improving hunger in Zimbabwe, the country can propel onward into prosperity.

– Divine Adeniyi
Photo: Flickr

Oxfam Addresses Poverty in ZimbabweThe country of Zimbabwe has a population of 14.86 million people as of 2020. Zimbabwe’s poverty rate stood at 38.3% in 2019, increasing at a yearly percentage of 10.32%. Due to a high prevalence of poverty in the nation, Oxfam addresses poverty in Zimbabwe to improve the lives of citizens. Across the world, Oxfam is lowering poverty rates in developing nations through initiatives that combat hunger, strengthen livelihoods and supply water and sanitation services, among other efforts. With Oxfam’s help, Zimbabwe may be able to target and reduce poverty across the nation.

Combating Hunger and Improving Farming

In June 2020, Oxfam reported that more than 17 million individuals “across Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa” faced food insecurity as a consequence of the impacts of the severe 2019 drought on agriculture. In the same month, Oxfam warned that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic could intensify circumstances of food insecurity for more than 40 million individuals in Southern Africa. The food insecurity situation is so extreme that Zimbabweans are crossing the Kafwambila border into Zambia “to exchange their goats and cows for a small bag of maize flour.”

Oxfam is able to help people in need of dependable sources of food. Oxfam addresses poverty in Zimbabwe by working with local leaders to deliver clean water and food to citizens in need. In emergency situations, Oxfam provides cash transfers so that people can purchase food according to their needs and preferences.

The Benefits of Agricultural Productivity

A 2011 OECD study analyzed poverty reduction successes between 1980-2005 across 25 nations. The study’s specific in-depth analysis of poverty reduction in Ghana, Indonesia, Vietnam and Ethiopia found that more than 50% of poverty reduction relates to “growth in agricultural incomes.” This shows that agriculture plays a crucial role in global poverty reduction.

Increased agricultural productivity can increase farmers’ incomes and food production in a country and reduce the costs of food overall while providing job opportunities. According to a 2014 Africa Renewal article, Zimbabwe requires 1.8 million tons of maize annually to adequately provide for the country’s people and livestock. However, during the 2012/2013 agricultural year, Zimbabwe produced less than 800,000 tons of maize.

The agricultural sector in the country depends on factors such as optimal weather conditions and adequate rain to grow quality crops. Due to the significance of agriculture in poverty reduction, Oxfam helps nations like Zimbabwe to improve agricultural productivity by introducing new farming techniques to farmers and by providing supplies such as seeds and tools so that people can cultivate their own food.

How Oxfam Addresses Poverty in Zimbabwe Through Hygiene and Health Care

In Zimbabwe, outbreaks of diseases such as cholera stem from poor water, hygiene and sanitation facilities. In 2018, one of the most severe outbreaks of the disease in Zimbabwe stemmed from sewage pipes that burst and contaminated drinking water supplies. Oxfam provides countries with clean water, soap and toilet facilities to avoid water contamination and promote proper hygiene.

Oxfam also recognizes pressing issues that come during sudden disasters. When Cyclone Idai struck Africa in 2019, nations faced water contamination due to “extensive damage to water supplies and sanitation infrastructure.” Oxfam initially worked to provide up to 500,000 individuals in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe with water treatment kits, hygiene kits and clean water.

Looking Ahead

Oxfam is taking many steps to address poverty in Zimbabwe by assisting in the areas of food security, agricultural development and water, sanitation and hygiene. The organization’s efforts have and will continue to positively impact the lives of those facing poverty across the globe.

– Katelyn Rogers
Photo: Flickr

Zoe Empowers
Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said that “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” However, the circumstances of the world’s children bring to the forefront a harsh reality. UNICEF estimates that there are 356 million children enduring conditions of extreme poverty globally. With 356 million children surviving on less than $1.90 daily, children go without access to education, proper health care, housing, sanitation and nutritious meals. These circumstances are often worse for orphans who have no familial support. Regions with a high number of orphans, such as Afghanistan, commonly report rampant wars, natural disasters and epidemics. Without the care of an adult and a way to secure their basic needs, many of these children face exploitation, often becoming victims of trafficking and forced labor. Zoe Empowers is an organization that assists orphans and vulnerable children by providing resources and skills training for these children to become self-sufficient and escape the stronghold of poverty.

About Zoe Empowers

In 2004, Zoe Empowers first began as a “relief mission” in Africa working to help orphans during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe. In fact, the organization’s origins stand as the initial inspiration for its name — Zimbabwe Orphan Endeavor. As time went by, the organization chose to adopt the Greek meaning of the word “zoe” — life. This definition is meaningful because of the organization’s mission to empower vulnerable children in “eight areas of life.” The organization’s overall goal is to create a world where orphans and vulnerable children are able to become self-sufficient, productive members of society, able to use their own skills and knowledge to escape the grips of poverty.

The Strategy

Zoe Empowers implements a three-year empowerment program. This costs a monthly amount of $7.66 per child and a total of $275.76 per child over three years. The program includes several core areas:

  1. Food Stability. To create sustainable solutions to hunger, Zoe Empowers gives the children a modest grant and training to start “a husbandry and farming project” in the first year of the program. In the second year, these animals and crops serve as funding to buy more land to expand on these income-generating agricultural projects. In the final year, the program reaches the ultimate impact: The children now have access to two or three healthy meals a day and share this food “with other vulnerable children in the community.”
  2. Stable Shelter. Within the first year of the program, children with the most urgent housing needs receive financing “through housing grants.” In the second year, “individual and group savings account funds” go toward the reparation or rebuilding of the “homes of deceased parents.” In the last year, the children can purchase land and build their own houses with the extra income from their businesses.
  3. Hygiene and Health. In the first year, staff provided training on personal hygiene and children with severe health issues received emergency medical assistance. In the second year, children gain access to “national health insurance.” Alternatively, Zoe Empowers helps children to finance “medical savings accounts.” In the last year, children earn enough from their business ventures to provide for themselves in terms of food, clothing, “access to health care” and other necessities.
  4. Establishing Education. In terms of learning, in the first year, Zoe Empowers provides children with financial assistance to enroll in school. In the second year, “individual and household businesses” finance the costs of school. During the last year, students can also fund the education of their “younger siblings” and plan for their own tertiary education.
  5. Sustainable Income. In order to generate income, in the first year, the children receive training on economic concepts and how to establish a business with small grants. In the second year, the children receive business loans, which are “paid back to the group bank account” while businesses grow. During the last year, these children lead their families, running several businesses and employing siblings and community members.
  6. Human Rights. In the first year, the organization contacts local officials to conduct training on child rights and build relationships with children so that they are more comfortable reporting abuse. During the second year, as business owners, the children are able to secure a higher social status. Therefore, the community welcomes their voices and opinions. In the last year, with a human rights background, children now know how to enforce their rights in the case of violations.
  7. Community Connections. All three years of this aspect of the program revolve around establishing a sense of belonging in the community as children serve as leaders and entrepreneurs in society.

Impact in Numbers

So far, Zoe Empowers works in seven countries: Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Rwanda, Liberia, Tanzania and India. Across these countries, the organization has provided assistance to 124,071 vulnerable children since 2007. In a 2020 survey, SAS collected data from 495 graduates of Zoe Empowers empowerment groups in Rwanda and Kenya. Among other results, SAS reports that 100% of graduates own successful, income-generating businesses, 96% can afford the costs of three daily meals and 91% of graduates can fund the cost of their education.

Zoe Empowers hopes to expand further into other regions. With its sustainable model, poverty can reduce as children receive the resources, training and support to become self-sufficient.

– Shikha Surupa
Photo: Pixabay