3 Ways the UN is Helping Zimbabwe Provide Better Health Care For AllThe country of Zimbabwe has a poverty index of approximately 38%, making it one of Africa’s most impoverished countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse, with the virus disproportionately impacting the poor. The novel coronavirus is threatening Zimbabwe’s already-fragile health care system, which has been afflicted by past bouts of HIV and AIDS. The United Nations is working closely with the World Health Organization to educate the citizens of Zimbabwe on COVID-19 and ensure that the country’s residents follow the most up-to-date safety guidelines.

The COVID-19 relief and prevention efforts are representative of a small part of Zimbabwe’s ongoing effort to better its health care. The rural-urban divide marked by the rich-poor split has grown largely along the lines of access to health care and proper medical needs. As such, Zimbabwe and humanitarian organizations, such as the United Nations, are working on ways to better health care for all citizens in Zimbabwe.

3 Ways the UN is Supporting Zimbabwe Provide Better Health Care for All

  1. Fighting misinformation with awareness — In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, combatting misinformation has become a top priority. The UN is working carefully to connect local journalists with government officials to ensure that people are well educated and have relevant information. In addition, the UN is strongly advocating for more broadcast programs geared toward the elderly, disabled and poor as this demographic is most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus and any other pertinent diseases. In keeping with this strategy, the UN brought together 55 Zimbabwe news outlet representatives and journalists to create a strategy to effectively distribute public health information. The move is a large step toward reaching the country’s 14 million residents.
  2. Creating role models — Wearing masks and exercising sanitation practices, such as hand-washing, are a few of the best ways to fight the spread of any disease. The UN aid groups encourage Zimbabwe news outlets to advertise these simple disease-prevention methods in a variety of ways. Firstly, journalists receive protective gear from employers, as well as provide protective equipment to interviewees to set an example for their viewers on television. Additionally, older children who are properly educated in handwashing techniques subsequently teach their peers in village societies. These methods collectively avoid putting increased strain on Zimbabwe’s hospital system, which many doctors argue is badly in need of reform. Currently, the government of Zimbabwe has shown an unwillingness to increase services, staff pay or important funding for doctors. However, recent strikes by health care workers have turned the tide against government inaction and encouraged intervention.
  3. Spreading music — Amid isolation in the time of the COVID-19 and lockdowns, more people are looking to music to alleviate their concerns. Zimbabwean performers have organized virtual concerts through UN support to provide listeners with relief from the struggles of COVID-19. The UN Communications Group oversees these events and plays a large role in their proper functioning. The Communications Group brings together more than 25 UN agencies in Zimbabwe. The message these music groups send has a specific purpose as well. They encircle the cause of ending the pandemic as quickly and effectively as possible while bolstering a sense of national unity.

With new government intervention to increase aid for public health and the tireless work of United Nations’ assistance, Zimbabwe’s health care system is slowly on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic has only strengthened the resolve of the country to better health care for all. By fighting misinformation, elevating role models and spreading unity through love and music, Zimbabwe has shown how simple initiatives can lead to better living standards and improved national health.

– Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

Demining Zimbabwe's National ParkLocated in southeast Zimbabwe, Gonarezhou National Park is home to 11,000 African elephants, which is how it earned its name as the “Place of Elephants.” Unfortunately, it is also the site of thousands of buried landmines. These landmines were placed by the Rhodesian army during Zimbabwe’s Liberation War and have remained there for more than 40 years. Although there have been efforts to remove these mines, they continue to be a constant threat to the people of Zimbabwe and local wildlife. Demining Zimbabwe’s national park will have several benefits for the country.

APOPO: Demining Efforts

The United States has provided a grant of $750,000 to the nonprofit APOPO to demine the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor, where a large portion of the undetonated landmines reside. The Sengwe Wildlife Corridor covers a stretch of land that connects the park to South Africa and is used regularly by migrating elephants.

The area that APOPO has been designated to work is one of the largest in the world: 37 kilometers lengthwise and 75 kilometers in width. With almost 6,000 landmines per kilometer, communities in the surrounding area are unable to access potential land for farming and endangered species are at constant risk.

The presence of the minefield prevents the elephant population of the park from migrating and potentially mixing with other elephant populations. This presents a long-term risk of limiting the already shrinking African elephant gene pool.

APOPO has established a five-year plan for demining Zimbabwe’s national park, expecting to remove all undetonated landmines from the area by 2025. It estimates that it will remove more than 15,000 landmines before the end of its operation in the corridor.

The nonprofit will be working in tandem with the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust to maintain that the process will not impede conservation goals for the park.

The project also complements USAID programs to support community-based natural resource management, provide climate-smart agricultural technologies and improve the value chain for communities to sell their products for a fair market price.

Poverty in Zimbabwe and COVID-19

Zimbabwe is currently facing severe economic hardships that have only worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, 50% of Zimbabweans experienced food insecurity and 40% faced extreme poverty. This number is projected to increase as conditions worsen with the onset of the pandemic and severe droughts. Inflation in the country has been rampant, with prices of food increasing by 725%, resulting in a severe loss of purchasing power for the poor. The pandemic has impacted the already economically challenged country by decreasing trade and tourism.

Aiding Economic Recovery in Zimbabwe

The United States and APOPO hope that by clearing out the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor, ecotourism in Zimbabwe will begin to thrive. As it stands currently, only 8,000 tourists on average visit Gonarezhou National Park compared to the 1.8 million tourists that visit the neighboring Kruger National Park of South Africa. Demining Zimbabwe’s national park means providing an extended opportunity for increased tourism in the struggling country. The efforts of APOPO, with the support of the United States, may be able to help economic recovery, reduce the impact of the pandemic and uplift communities that are battling poverty.

-Christopher McLean
Photo: Flickr

Disability and Poverty in Zimbabwe
In 2013-14, the national survey Living Conditions among Persons with Disabilities recorded that out of Zimbabwe’s population of 13 million, more than 900,000 people had disabilities, amounting to nearly 7% of the population. The survey also found that 53.5% of the disabled population were disabled before the age of 20 with about 27% being present at birth. With a disability, a person often experiences exclusion from government resources. This exclusion adds to the link between disability and poverty in Zimbabwe, and so some are placing focus on aiding the disabled population.

Children with Disabilities

In Zimbabwe, it is difficult to gain accurate statistics of children with disabilities because of the lack of routine data collection. This creates a problem because organizations are not able to aid with proper services. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Annual Statistics Report 2016 stated that 52,232 in-school children had impairments, increasing by nearly 50% from 2014. These children are not able to participate within the community in ways others can, which leads to exclusion in social services such as conventional health support, education, legal aid and more.

Socioeconomic Challenges

From 1996 to 2005, there was a major decline in Zimbabwe’s social and economic condition. Poverty is often due to a lack of resources and the inability to access the resources because of a person’s belief or location. In 2019, a Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee reported that more than 5.5 million people needed humanitarian assistance, showing a link between disability and poverty in Zimbabwe and around the world.

As mentioned, people with disabilities are often unable to contribute to certain aspects of social and economic life, thus contributing to the community’s poverty. Additionally, poverty can affect disabilities because of poor living conditions, health care and malnutrition. In fact, about 52% of people with disabilities stated that they did not receive the necessary medical rehabilitation.  Excluding the disabled population from social services causes them to become more prone to malnutrition and diseases. This exclusion stems from the discrimination of people with disabilities and adds to the community’s poverty.

Solutions for Children with Disabilities

The UNICEF Zimbabwe Country Office (CO) created a Disability Strategy 2018-2020. According to the Zimbabwe, Disabled Persons Act, Chapter 17:01 Acts 5/1992,6/2000,22/2001 disability is a human right and developmental issue. The Disability Strategy will assist in the equality and dignity of children with disabilities as well as create equal opportunities. UNICEF writes that this strategy hopes to help by “ensuring the best interest of the child, independence, freedom of choice, full and active participation in all areas of life and society.”

UNICEF’s Life-Cycle-Approach will focus on all stages of a child’s life where disabilities can or may occur. This approach will aid in prevention and assistance to the population by focusing on the prevention of a disability from conception to birth. From birth to 4 years old, the strategy will help with early detection and intervention, and inclusive access, development and protection until the child is 18. Through the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Phase II, UNICEF has managed to distribute up to $25 monthly cash transfers for 20,000 households, including households with disabilities. To help decrease the link between disability and poverty in Zimbabwe, the national budget in 2017 provided $800,000 to help support people with disabilities.

Advocating for Disability Rights

Exclusion is a big focus when discussing people with disabilities. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) uses the phrase “Leave no one behind” in its Agenda 2030. UNESCO focuses on inclusions for all. In 2019, UNESCO was able to produce four advocacy and tools to raise awareness for increasing disability rights and the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Through these strategies, the hope exists that there will be a decrease in the link between disability and poverty in Zimbabwe.

– Sarah Kirchner
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in ZimbabweLike many other African nations, there has been an ongoing battle for the women in Zimbabwe to see equal opportunity and protections as men. Traditionally, women are considered dependents of men. Because of this historical reliance, women often find themselves in abusive or harmful relationships and the marriage of girls younger than the legal age often comes from necessity. As of 2019, cases of marriages of girls under 15 have risen to 5.4%, despite laws classifying the act as illegal. However, recent developments evidence that an increase in women’s autonomy is possible in the southern African country. This has come both in the form of laws and activist organizations taking steps to advance women’s rights in Zimbabwe. Forward progress could help to ensure equality and protection for girls and women in the nation.

New Law Ensures Divorced Women a Fair Share of Property

Traditionally in Zimbabwe, in marriage, property ownership rights are to the advantage of males and the husband is considered the owner of the property. This secures a position wherein women are solely dependant on men and sole ownership of property by a female is rare. While men and women are just as likely to enter joint ownership deals, 22% of men are sole landowners compared to only 11% of women.

This could all begin to change after a decision by the Zimbabwe Supreme Court that entitles both partners an equal share of their property upon divorce. Under this decision, women in Zimbabwe can now choose to divorce partners without the risk of giving up all possessions and property that is rightfully theirs. Women in violent or abusive relationships now have more of a chance to move on and provide for themselves and their children after divorce. This large step in women’s land rights signals that women will more commonly be considered independent, countering traditional beliefs in Zimbabwe.

No Expulsion for Pregnant Female Students

In the face of school closings during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Zimbabwean Government is trying to ensure all female students feel safe to return to school once they reopen. Many young women in Zimbabwe find themselves victims of sexual abuse, therefore unexpected pregnancy is not uncommon. Often this will lead to women seeing no options other than early marriage and dropping out of school. In 2018, a study found that nearly 13% of school dropouts were due to unexpected pregnancy or marriage. However, schools have also been known to expel female students due to pregnancy.

In August of 2020, Zimbabwe restrengthened an amendment stating that it is illegal to expel female students due to pregnancy. The amendment, introduced in 1999, has not been strongly backed and many schools continue to punish students rather than give them the further support they need. This insurance to a proper education gives many women an option beyond becoming dependent on an educated man and the opportunity to become more self-reliant. It is also intended for the increased support of female students to reduce the dropout rate. This is a step in the right direction away from reliance on early marriage for the survival of many poor women in Zimbabwe.

18+ and Roots Africa Work to Protect More Women

Several organizations are working in the nation to advocate and work toward increased women’s rights. One such group, 18+, has focused on lowering child marriage in the country as a whole. A study found that in 2019, nearly 25% of young women were married before the age of 18 years old. 18+ is using Zimbabwe’s media to get its message across and is working to provide young women with information and resources on reproductive health and female empowerment.

Roots Africa is another advocacy group working to advance women’s rights in Zimbabwe. Having seen some success in lobbying for legal amendments in the past, the group currently has its sights set on review of the Zimbabwean Termination of Pregnancy Act. This would allow more women access to safe abortions in Zimbabwe. Currently, the only way to legally have an abortion is if the mother or child has a health risk or the mother can prove the pregnancy was a result of rape. Roots Africa has been known to fight the normalcy of domestic abuse against women, supporting legislation such as the Domestic Violence Act in Zimbabwe.

The Future of Women’s Rights in Zimbabwe

The work of women’s rights groups in the country promises a better future for Zimbabwean women. Along with continued support from the Zimbabwean Government, this could mark a turning point for women’s equality in the nation. Though it is currently too soon to note any effect of these new laws, if they are correctly enforced, there will be a significant advancement in women’s rights in Zimbabwe.

– Matthew McKee
Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Crisis in ZimbabweCurrently, many members of Zimbabwe are experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises of all time. Due to its devastating economy and food and water shortage, it has been rampant in many poverty areas in Zimbabwe. Especially with the COVID-19 crisis, this moment is critical for an international response in rehabilitating Zimbabwean communities susceptible to poverty.

The Causes of Zimbabwe’s Economy on the Humanitarian Crisis

A large factor in Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis is its problems that stem from its economy. As of now, extreme poverty has exceeded 34%, subject to at least 5.7 million people in poverty. As of this year, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate increases up to 500%. However, even with the inflation wages and salaries have remained relatively the same, escalating more financial deficits. As a result of the massive influx of inflation, food insecurity has surged and power-based utilities have drastically declined. Additionally, agriculture and electricity have been a large shortage in vulnerable communities of Zimbabwe.

Even with loans such as the World Bank, IMO and the African Development Bank, Zimbabwe still accumulates more than $8 billion. Additionally, the average middle class is only paid up to $1.80 per day and barely able to sustain themselves. Although with its devastating economy, Zimbabwe has tried several mechanisms in rehabilitating its structure. For example, in 2009 they tried eliminating the US currency entirely in its country to avoid confusion and inflation. Additionally, they tried investing in bonds and electronic money. Unfortunately, these methods have only exacerbated the problem of inflation in its current economy.

The Effects of Zimbabwe’s Economy on the Humanitarian Crisis

As a result of its astronomically high inflation rates, many members of Zimbabwe, especially children, have been subject to extremely inhumane conditions. For example, more than 76% of children in Zimbabwe are currently living below the poverty rate. At least 90% of infants experience malnutrition and stunted growth. Additionally, the World Food Program estimates that the country would need more than $200 million in reparations in order to bring its country out of poverty. To make matters worse, Zimbabwe has also been experiencing extreme food shortages from the several droughts it has endured this past year. As of now, the country only sustains on below 100,000 tons of grain. Zimbabwe consumes about 80,000 tons of maize per month itself. Due to the rampant droughts and the underperforming economy, the poverty rate may increase by more than 5%.

Government Censorship and Suppression of Protests

Along with its conflicts in the economy, the militia imposed by the government has also been suppressing peaceful protestors. This further invigorates the public about the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. These protestors are advocating for more government solvency over Zimbabwe’s frequent power outages and food shortages. For example, during August 2019 local militia placed several attacks on innocent protesters, killing at least six people. Then in mid-January 2020, nationwide protests struck a violent response from the security force and militia. They killed at least 17 people, raped 17 women and raided over 1,000 protestors.

In addition, journalists and other political officials are often silenced on violent and unstable matters in the country. An important state official, Viola Gonda, was harassed for filming local police officers attacking street vendors. This was due to the lack of reform with certain legislation, such as the Protection of Privacy Act. There were frequent loopholes of defamation that interfered with the protection of local journalists.

Initiatives to Rehabilitate Zimbabwe

Although Zimbabwe is suffering through a tremendous crisis, its large public exposure gained more efforts to replenish impoverished areas. For example, the International Monetary Fund has sent a task force to advise Zimbabwe on how to deal with its hyperinflation and decreasing revenue in the economy. Additionally, in February 2020, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his financial consultant plan on request a $2 billion loan package in order to provide its citizens with sustaining jobs and resources. As an immediate solution, UNICEF has provided $11 million in order to improve water and sanitation services. Zimbabwe also received over $240 million for its food shortages. UN Secretary Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon claims that the United Nations will show stronger support in aiding Zimbabweans, providing a positive outlook over its current problems. This will happened when Zimbabwe shows promise in the reparations of its political power and economic power.

NGOs that are Helping the Humanitarian Crisis in Zimbabwe

Along with international organizations, smaller projects are providing aid to local Zimbabweans who are suffering through these tough times. For example, Action Against Hunger, a nonprofit organization that provides resources to combat malnutrition, has made numerous strides in aiding local communities in Zimbabwe. They also launched an emergency project in 2018 to help Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, recuperate the damages after its devastating droughts. Following similar goals and accomplishments, the International Rescue Committee has been dedicated to aid and supply resources to impoverished areas in Zimbabwe since 2008. Its main objectives are providing a direct supply for food shortages, donating vouchers for farmers to increase harvests and plantations and drilling wells to make clean water more accessible.

Even with its downfalls, there are numerous relief efforts to help the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, especially during a global pandemic. With a large global response, there is a strong likelihood of lessening Zimbabwe’s economic and political adversities and raising people out of poverty.

Aishwarya Thiygarajan

Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 affects Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe once had an effective water system. However, a lack of proper infrastructure and government action means a lack of safe water. Water and waste disposal systems suffer ineffective planning, especially in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare. Further, COVID-19 affects Zimbabwe broadly as well as having an impact on its already fragile water supply.

The Issues in Harare

To survive, residents in Harare must dig wells to create a water source. However, the well water is not safe to drink. The sewage system in Harare is another health issue for residents. Young children play in sewage and often fall ill from the lack of sanitation.

Additionally, further issues plague Harare. The Human Rights Watch interviewed a Harare resident named Bonnie who explained that she does not have water to bathe and clean her three children, including one in diapers. The video also featured an interview with a woman called Abigail. She mentioned that the water smells, and she must use a purification tablet before bathing or drinking. Abigail says the government’s negligence has caused these issues within the community.

More than half of Harare’s 4.5 million population could only access running water once a week. This was according to the city’s mayor, Herbert Gomba, back in 2019. Thus, residents must turn to other solutions, such as waiting in long lines at communal wells, streams or boreholes. The water received from these places may not even be safe to drink.

Drought is the cause of the shortage of water in Zimbabwe. In Harare, one-half of the population’s reservoirs are empty because there is no rain. The remaining water, 45% to 60%, is often lost and inaccessible to the population due to leakage or theft.

The Pandemic

As the novel coronavirus plagues the globe, the disease is contributing great distress to Zimbabwe. COVID-19 affects Zimbabwe mainly through its water supply, which hurts the citizens of Harare and the surrounding population.

In Harare, citizens go without water for days. They must wait until water trucks arrive in the city. Once the water is finally available, COVID-19 changes how citizens can access it. Citizens gather in large numbers to wait in line, which makes the concept of social distancing nearly impossible. Then, they push and shove to receive water. Additionally, COVID-19 affects Zimbabwe because many individuals do not wear or cannot access masks.

Organizations like Doctors Without Borders encourage social distancing. Yet, it is not a long-term or time-friendly solution, as they are not sure that it will keep people safe. Furthermore, the people in Harare are desperate for food and water. They may sacrifice their health to be first in line to receive water for themselves and their families.

Dewa Mavhinga, the South Africa director at Human Rights Watch, explains that COVID-19 affects Zimbabwe differently because of their pre-existing lack of water. It takes a toll on the spread of the virus and other infectious diseases, such as typhoid and cholera. Water is necessary for handwashing and hygiene, which can combat the spread of coronavirus. Without an uninterrupted supply of water, residents will struggle to stay safe and healthy.

Aid

Supporters abroad can help aid the people of Zimbabwe by urging U.S. congressional leaders to make the COVID-19 crisis in Zimbabwe a current political and human rights focus. With U.S. backing, the Zimbabwean government can ensure there are water points throughout the country. This will prevent overcrowding and the spread of COVID-19.

Another way to aid Zimbabwe’s public health system is to show support to organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children. These organizations are providing emergency relief and recovery programs for people in Zimbabwe. They are doing everything they can to combat how COVID-19 affects Zimbabwe by implementing humanitarian relief efforts.

Caitlin Calfo
Photo: Flickr

Schools in Zimbabwe Can No Longer Expel Pregnant SchoolgirlsZimbabwe is a country in southern Africa. It is now illegal for schools to expel pregnant schoolgirls in Zimbabwe. This may sound unusual to people from western civilizations. However, it is very common for schools to expel pregnant girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa Commonly Expel Pregnant Schoolgirls

It was a common practice in Zimbabwe for schools to expel pregnant schoolgirls. It is also common in many African countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, and Togo. In fact, there are no re-entry policies or laws that protect pregnant schoolgirls’ rights to education in 24 African countries. Some schools in Africa go as far as conducting mandatory pregnancy tests on schoolgirls. This poses a significant challenge for women on the African continent since the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world are found there. Some pregnant schoolgirls resort to procuring unsafe abortions while others drop out upon learning that they’re pregnant.

Part of the problem is that African Union member states centered discussion about this issue around the idea that pregnancy outside of marriage is wrong. These opinions stem from broad interpretations of religious teachings. The view is that if they allow pregnant schoolgirls the opportunity to continue their education, it would normalize pregnancy outside of marriage.

Causes and Consequences of Adolescent Pregnancy

While many use the morality argument to stigmatize pregnant schoolgirls, many factors are outside of these girls’ control. In Africa, the main causes of adolescent pregnancy are sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, poverty and lack of information about reproduction and sexuality. Other main causes are lack of access to birth control and family planning services. Child marriages also play a large role in adolescent pregnancies in Africa. Approximately 38% of girls are married before the age of 18 and 12% are married before age 15 in sub-Saharan Africa.

Since adolescent pregnancy usually stops a girls’ education, poverty is a determinant and a consequence of adolescent pregnancy. Low levels of education can confine girls to low-paying jobs and low socioeconomic status. Additionally, there are socioeconomic consequences and health risks associated with adolescent pregnancy. In Africa, when compared to women aged 20-24, adolescents under the age of 15 are five to seven times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth.

The Benefits of Countries Making it Illegal for Schools to Expel Pregnant Schoolgirls

There are many benefits of countries making it illegal for schools to expel pregnant schoolgirls. For starters, education leads to a reduction in poverty. A girl’s future earning potential can increase by up to 25% from only one year of secondary education. On a larger scale, the average gross domestic product of a nation rises by 0.3% when that nation’s female education rate rises by one percentage point.

Educated women tend to have children who are healthier and more educated than children with uneducated mothers. A child is 50% more likely to survive past age five if they are born to a mother that can read. A research found that a child’s life expectancy increases by an average of 0.32 years for every year their mother goes to school. Women who received a quality education were “more than twice as likely to send their children to school.” Therefore, providing women with education has the potential to create a cycle of adolescent education. The education of women can also lead to a reduction in domestic violence. There are connections between fewer years of education and higher risks of intimate partner violence. When women are more aware of their risks and rights, it is easier for women to keep themselves safe.

Now it’s Illegal for Schools to Expel Pregnant Schoolgirls

Due to COVID-19, concerns over the effect of school closures on sexual abuse and unwanted pregnancies have increased. As a result, officials in Zimbabwe have made it illegal for schools to expel pregnant schoolgirls. The goal of the legal amendment is to reinforce a 1999 guideline. A guideline that did not sufficiently protect girls’ right to an education. This amendment is arguably overdue since 12.5% of Zimbabwe approximate 57,500 school dropouts were due to pregnancy or marriage reasons in 2018. Women’s rights campaigners have stated that they believe this measure is vital for tackling gender inequality in the classroom. In addition, it will stop many girls from deciding to drop out of school.

Hopefully, Zimbabwe’s overdue amendment will influence other African countries to protect women’s right to an education and make it illegal for schools to expel pregnant schoolgirls.

Araceli Mercer

Photo: Flickr

innovations in poverty eradication in zimbabweLocated in southern Africa, Zimbabwe is characterized by impressive landscapes and diverse wildlife. Currently, Zimbabwe is suffering from immense poverty. In 2019, extreme poverty was at 34% in Zimbabwe, an increase from 29% in 2018. Furthermore, this represents a change from 4.7 million to 5.7 million people living in poverty. The cause of this swift increase was an economic contraction of around 8%. The World Bank expects a continued increase in extreme poverty in Zimbabwe in 2020. Fortunately, many organizations are working on innovations in poverty eradication in Zimbabwe to combat this problem.

Hyperinflation and Drought

In addition to a general economic downturn, several droughts across Zimbabwe have caused the prices for food and other essential goods to rise. These same droughts slumped agricultural production, especially in rural communities, where people were hit the hardest by this downturn.

The African nation has also been struggling with hyperinflation for more than a decade. This problem results from economic mismanagement by the nation’s previous president, Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwean dollar lost 85% of its value against the American dollar between February and December of 2019. According to Trading Economics, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate was 737.3% in June 2020, growing to 837.5% by July 2020. As such, Zimbabwe faces severe hyperinflation, which does not help with its fight against widespread poverty. Here are two innovations in poverty eradication in Zimbabwe that are aiming to solve this problem.

Children in the Wilderness

One of these innovations in poverty eradication in Zimbabwe is a project by Children in the Wilderness (CITW), which started in February 2020. The project’s goal is to generate income within rural regions by creating businesses for women to operate. In northern Matabeleland, poverty levels are high due to a lack of diverse income-generating fields. Previously, this land relied on farming to produce income; however, unreliable rainfall and poor soil have made this method ineffective. Families now rely on an average monthly income of $9. This makes it a challenge to survive and prohibits many families from sending their children to school, which could help lift them out of poverty.

In response, CITW hosted classes that educated women on business and budgeting. The women who participated learned how to apply their innovative ideas, make money from their crafting skills and sell their work. CITW’s teachings have also promoted sustainability and self-management amongst the community. For example, the project provided a way to recycle unwanted waste by having women use it in basket weaving. To help women sell these goods, CITW pitches the crafts to businesses around Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls. As these businesses grow, poverty in northern Matabeleland will decrease. Importantly, CITW’s project has not only worked to eradicate poverty but has also brought women together and built pride in their local culture.

The Shoe That Grows

In 2020, CITW arrived in Tsholotsho, an area heavily affected by poverty, to act on a donation made by Melissa Cabrera Wilson. Wilson aims to ease the effects of poverty on children by providing them with another of many innovations in poverty eradication in Zimbabwe. The Shoe That Grows brand has provided children in Tsholotsho with something that most of them will never receive: new shoes. Without this donation, children would have to use shoes that have been passed down to them or nothing at all. So far, CITW has donated more than 45 shoes. The shoes can adjust from sizes one to four, allowing them to be used as the children grow. This innovation has given children relief from the harsh terrain they must walk miles on to get to school every day.

Hit by poverty and hyperinflation, Zimbabwe’s citizens are struggling. With these innovations in poverty eradication in Zimbabwe, they are beginning to overcome poverty step by step. The income-generating groups in northern Matabeleland will have a lasting effect on citizens, as a reliable and creative source of income is game-changing. Additionally, the shoes given to children in Zimbabwe and all over the world have also softened the harsh results of poverty on kids. In all, these innovations in poverty eradication in Zimbabwe have made life more tolerable for many of those affected.

Emma Green
Photo: Flickr

Coffee Production
Partnering with the nongovernmental organization (NGO) TechnoServe, Swiss coffee company Nespresso has worked in East Africa since 2015. It works to boost sustainability in coffee production and power small coffee farmers. The company also looks to increase sustainability by working with the Rainforest Alliance, another NGO. In 2018, Nespresso launched its AAA Sustainability Program in Zimbabwe. It focuses on training farmers and providing technical expertise and agronomic advice. Although it has found multiple programs worldwide, Zimbabwe was chosen explicitly after droughts and economic instability destroyed its capabilities to cultivate the cash crop.

The Economy of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s economy saw a 231 million percent inflation in July 2008 after a land reform program passed, causing its economy to crash. According to the World Bank, Zimbabwe’s GDP fell by 8.1% in 2019 and has continued to fall due to COVID-19. In 2019, 6.6 million of Zimbabwe’s residents were extremely poor and food poverty was prevalent.

However, around 17% of Zimbabwe’s GDP is agricultural, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Coffee is a vital crop to the GDP. At peak production in 1989, Zimbabwe produced 15,000 tons of coffee. It sunk to 500 tons in 2017, according to the Telegraph. The loss of this significant part of the economy pushed millions into poverty and took away many jobs.

Understanding the Country’s Environment

Zimbabwe’s environment is ideal for cultivating coffee. It has cold temperatures, lots of rainfall and fertile lands. Coffee production has fallen mostly due to a lack of knowledge about growing the plant and droughts brought on by global warming. Coffee is a delicate tree, taking between two and three years to start flowering and nine months following this to have harvestable cherries. This is why Nespresso’s programs work to educate on sustainability and provide raw funds for farmers to use amongst economic instability.

In training, the main points of contention are drilling holes to plant trees, shading the trees properly and pruning branches. They also include eliminating bugs and disease, watching soil deficiencies and crop hygiene, according to National Geographic. The temperamental nature of coffee makes it essential to know exactly how to sustain it in the best way using efficient machinery and methods.

The Benefits of Nespresso

Nespresso plans to invest 1.3 million euros. It pays farmers in U.S. dollars instead of the Bond Notes that many use instead of currency. This allows them to buy better products and services globally. This will not only work to revitalize the economy through spending, but it will increase agricultural exports. The program currently works with over 2,000 farmers, training them on how to grow and paying them above-market rates for the coffee.

Since Nespresso has started working with these farmers, there was a 7% increase in production. Also, quality has risen by 51%. According to the Telegraph, Zimbabwe could soon double its coffee production, reaching 10,000 tons of coffee shortly. Furthermore, AAA programs have specifically targeted female farmers to provide equal opportunities, with 47% of the farmers being female.

In the long term, increased coffee production could help the country in multiple ways. Along with a GDP boost and increased jobs, the stimulation of coffee products helps put more children in school, provide healthcare access, increase efficiency and equipment and preserve biodiversity.

Overall, for those living in poverty in Zimbabwe, the rise of the crop that once drove the economy will provide immense relief. By bringing stability, jobs and globalization, the door to better opportunities starts with coffee. Nespresso’s program has opened that door to many small farmers in Zimbabwe.

– Nitya Marimuthu
Photo: Pixabay

Deaf Children in Zimbabwe
With the current pandemic, it can be easy for countries to focus primarily on themselves. The coronavirus is a pressing issue, but that does not mean that all of the other issues in the world have gone away. In fact, the coronavirus compounds many of these issues as well as takes focus away from their solutions. Deaf children in Zimbabwe are an example of those who still need help despite the focus being on the pandemic. COVID-19 has shut down economies and closed off borders between nations. Necessary aid for these children has not been able to reach them as well as before. They still need to progress in their education with teachers who know how to teach and work with deaf children.

Poverty in Zimbabwe is no friend to the deaf children in Zimbabwe. Families are unable to send their children to special schools because they cannot pay for them. Also, education is such an important component of raising a country out of poverty. This is because educated people are more likely to get higher-paying jobs to support their families and to boost the economy.

Facts about Poverty in Zimbabwe

After seven years, twice as many people lived in extreme poverty as of 2019. The poverty rate in Zimbabwe as of 2019 was 34%. As in many countries, poverty affects the parts of the country outside of cities the most. Of the children that live in these areas, over 70% are impoverished. Malnutrition is also a serious problem; as of 2019, food insecurity affected nearly half of Zimbabwe.

The Nzeve Deaf Center

The Nzeve Deaf Center is a nongovernmental organization that teaches deaf children in Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe how to use sign language. It also teaches them how to survive in the world as a deaf person. It not only teaches the children but is also involved with their families so that the children can have nurturing environments in school and at home. Manicaland is one of the poorest areas of Zimbabwe in regards to the children there.

Nzeve’s Help During COVID-19

Additionally, Nzeve will provide economic relief for families who wish to send deaf children to school. It will teach them ways to make money to pay for their children’s schooling as well as lower the cost of school. Deaf children still need to keep up with their studies while staying in quarantine. Therefore, Nzeve will teach them until they are able to go back to school. Nzeve also reaches out to fellow NGOs, informing them and others about helping disabled children.

In conclusion, the negative effects of COVID-19 have affected Zimbabwe tremendously. The poverty rate has increased because of the external factor of the worldwide shutdown that caused internal factors such as unemployment. Countries do have to focus on their own people in order to protect them and to stop the spread of the virus within their borders. However, there are people in other countries like Zimbabwe who still need help, especially with the current coronavirus crisis. Specifically, the deaf children in Zimbabwe still need access to education, and their families still need help paying for that education. Nzeve has accepted the challenge of helping these children to have a brighter future.

Moriah Thomas
Photo: Flickr