Transforming Gender Norms in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe faced a devastating drought in 2016 and food security continues to be a major problem in the South African country, primarily affecting young children. Since 2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been heavily involved in assuring Zimbabweans’ food security, focusing on supporting farmers, strengthening agricultural markets and managing natural resources.

USAID increased its spending in Zimbabwe by $21.5 million in 2015, expanding interventions to water sanitation and hygiene. However, gender norms in Zimbabwe also affect the lack of food security, especially for children.

Gender Norms in Zimbabwe

Most men in Zimbabwe have little to do with feeding or caring for their children, leaving mothers to do the majority of child-rearing. But for three meals a day, Zimbabwean mothers must search for firewood, make a fire, collect water, cook and clean dishes. The rest of most mothers’ days are spent tending to their families’ crops, leaving little time for mothers to focus on childcare and healthy nutrition.

Social and gender norms in Zimbabwe combine to mean that men are not heavily involved in child rearing, which is viewed as a women’s responsibility. The concept that men get involved with their children is so foreign to Zimbabwean culture that men who do involve themselves get accused of being under a love spell or potion.

USAID’s members realized that working with men is essential to transforming gender norms and thereby ensuring healthy feeding practices for children. The agency started implementing the Male Champions of Change (MCC) strategy to change gender norms in Zimbabwe, using the motto, “Indoda Emadodeni,” meaning Man Among Men.

Male Champions of Change

Australia was the first to formally implement the MCC Institute under the Australian Human Rights Commission. The MCC Institute is a collaborative initiative that strives to address entrenched gender inequalities. Now, MCC’s strategy is used by a number of organizations worldwide, such as the U.N. and USAID.

As its name suggests, MCC targets men. The MCC Institute was actually founded by a woman and women are heavily involved in the Institute, but the founder recognized that political power still rests largely in the hands of men and engaging men would help accelerate change. Changing gender norms in Zimbabwe is more than just a women’s issue, and men have a responsibility to step up beside women to advocate for equality.

MCC involves appealing to men rationally and emotionally. Its strategy defines the business, economic and social benefits of gender equality and urges male leaders to confront and understand the challenges women close to them face every day.

MCC encourages men to support:

  • Changing workplace conditions, cultures and mindsets
  • Increasing the number of women on boards and executive committees
  • Recruiting, developing and retaining diverse candidates
  • Prioritizing health and safety in workplaces and prohibiting all forms of violence, including verbal and sexual
  • Sharing experiences and strategies for advancing gender equality
  • Being spokespersons for gender equality
  • Assessing and publicly reporting on progress and results on gender equality

MCC in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, USAID’s MCC campaign focuses primarily on gender equality within households. In comparison, the MCC Institute of Australia focuses more on equality in the workplace and in society in general.

Participants of USAID’s MCC campaign, called Male Champions, recruit their peers and hold monthly meetings and group training. At the meetings, Male Champions discuss their roles and responsibilities at home and the interactive training sessions challenge the men to debate and resolve gender-related problems. The meetings also specifically address gender and social norms that present barriers to good nutrition and gender equality.

Male Champions in Zimbabwe come to recognize that their manhood will not be diminished by cooking. One Male Champion said that he learned how to make his daughter porridge and feed her. A USAID survey also found statistically significant improvements in supportive behaviors such as:

  • Collecting water
  • Fetching firewood
  • Caring for children
  • Cooking
  • Accompanying wives to health facilities

USAID also saw an increase in joint decision-making between spouses from 30 percent to 82 percent in just one year. Overall, USAID’s MCC campaign has made a significant difference in changing gender norms in Zimbabwe to ensure gender equality and nutritional security for children.

– Kathryn Quelle
Photo: Flickr

Zimbabwe's Tobacco Secret: Confronting Child Labor in Zimbabwe
The nation of Zimbabwe is working towards more economic stability with its multiple industries, but has recently made headlines for its harmful farming practices, such as child labor.

Zimbabwe has been in the news for its tobacco farming practices, as farm workers have complained about health complications from working on tobacco farms, as well as the poor regulations on farms that fail to ensure that workers’ rights are being respected. What has been more alarming is the discovery of child workers, who have prompted humanitarian organizations to investigate child labor in Zimbabwe as practiced on the nation’s tobacco farms.

Zimbabwe’s Economy

Zimbabwe had a GDP of $17.11 billion and a per capita income of $2,300 as of 2017. The nation’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture and relies heavily on tobacco production for economic sustainability.

The nation is the sixth-largest producer of tobacco in the world, and the tobacco plant is the nation’s most valuable export commodity. The industry alone brought the nation an estimated $933 million in 2016.

Health Risks of Tobacco Farming

As the world’s demand for tobacco persists, growing concerns over child labor in Zimbabwe have surfaced as child workers have come forward to report the poor conditions they have faced while working on tobacco plantations.

According to UNICEF, one in four children in developing countries are engaged in child labor. Furthermore, in an extensive report published by Human Rights Watch, it was discovered that child laborers who harvested tobacco were exposed to nicotine and pesticides. This led to many experiencing symptoms consistent with nicotine poisoning, including nausea, headaches and dizziness. Heath researchers have also suspected that exposure to nicotine can affect brain development in children.

It was also discovered that farm workers who worked on larger farms worked long hours and did not receive any compensation for working overtime.

Human Rights Watch also noted that labor laws in Zimbabwe state that no child under the age of 16 is permitted to work and that children under the age of 18 are not permitted to work in a hazardous environment. However, several children under the age of 16 have reported working on Zimbabwe’s tobacco farms.

Solutions to Child Labor in Zimbabwe

The persistence of child labor in Zimbabwe is mainly attributed to the weak economy. With a national per capita income of roughly $2,300, families have resorted to using their children as laborers to help them survive.

Human Rights Watch child rights researcher Margaret Wurth stated that one solution to ending child labor in Zimbabwe is to make sure that companies who source tobacco from Zimbabwe do not purchase a crop produced by child workers, many of whom are forced to sacrifice their education and health to support their families.

The nation has about 120 labor inspectors, which is insufficient to monitor labor practices in every business, and it would be in the government’s best interest to recruit more inspectors to better monitor how business owners treat their employees.

The nation has shown signs of improvement; Human Rights Watch stated that the government has been working with trade unions and other groups “to develop occupational safety and health regulations for agriculture”.

Although child labor in Zimbabwe has become a crisis for the nation, it is likely that the nation’s government, under the authority of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, will be able to reverse its human rights abuses and further grow the economy, ensuring that children do not have to risk their health and education in order to help support their families.

– Lois Charm
Photo: Flickr

IGATE program
Since 2013, the Improving Girls’ Access through Transforming Education (IGATE) initiative in Zimbabwe has been aimed at identifying and reducing the barriers that limit and hinder girls’ educational access. The IGATE program in Zimbabwe is transforming girls’ education through empowerment.

Current Issues with Girls’ Education in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has the highest regional literacy rate with 96 percent. However, women make up 60 percent of the illiterate adult population and the school dropout rate remains particularly high among female students.

Through the sponsorship of the Girls Education Challenge Fund, the six-member organization and education initiative IGATE has a goal of reaching 90,000 women and girls. For these students, it aims to improve access to school while raising retention and performance rates.

How Exactly the IGATE Program Helps

SNV, a Dutch nonprofit focused on equipping communities with the knowledge to overcome poverty, is one of the six IGATE partners. It has been implementing the IGATE program in Zimbabwe with a specific focus on addressing the following barriers that interfere or hinder girls’ access to education:

  • Village savings and loans
  • Schools Development Committees (SDCs)
  • Capacity building including the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) component
  • Bicycle education empowerment programme (BEEP)
  • Male champions for girls’ education
  • Channels of hope (religious component targeting challenges of early marriages)
  • Improving children’s reading culture (happy readers) 

Through educating the community and empowering women with the tools they need for success, the IGATE program in Zimbabwe has already seen large improvements in individual lives. For example, programs like the Power Within girls club have helped children feel more equipped for success. According to World Vision International, Basitsana, a member of the club, stated, “We have been taught about child rights, career guidance and also communication. I think as I continue with this project, I will grow up to be a more clever and confident person.” 

Other models, such as the Village Savings and Lending Scheme, have helped parents pay for their children’s schools fees. Taki, a parent and beneficiary of the program, commented, “My life has significantly changed since starting activities with IGATE. I used to face difficulty in paying school fees…Now I can pay school fees for my children and also buy other necessities, especially for my daughter, such as sanitary pads.”

Continuing the Effects of IGATE

Not only has IGATE made differences in individual lives, it has also impacted the country as a whole. To date, IGATE has grown from its original eight districts to now 10 districts in Zimbabwe while also adding three new models of intervention focusing on barriers of distance, learning outcomes and male champion support. 

In the first three years of operation, IGATE estimates that the number of people directly benefited was around 70,000. Specifically, 4,500 School Development Committee members, 12,000 mothers of girls who participate in a mothers’ group and 2,000 traditional religious leaders whose involvement will allow for culturally and religiously appropriate approaches have all benefitted. 

Specific achievements of IGATE through the partnership of SNV include: 

  • 363 mothers’ groups of 467 target schools trained in Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) and the making of Reusable Menstrual Pads (RUMPs)
  • 361 school matrons have been trained in MHM and RUMP-making in the 10 districts in four provinces.
  • 467 Schools Development Committees have been trained in school governance, in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene management in schools, in planning and budgeting and in girl child issues including gender-based violence and child abuse in schools
  • Two sets of manuals including training guides were developed and approved through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s Curriculum Development Unit
  • 164 school health teachers were trained in participatory health and hygiene education (PHHE) 

For the future, the IGATE program in Zimbabwe has ambitious goals to reach 50,000 school girls in 450 schools across three provinces and eight districts.

– Anne-Marie Maher
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

Banana farming in Zimbabwe
Banana farming in Zimbabwe has evolved from a subsistence crop to a commercial enterprise, transforming rural communities in the eastern part of the country.

In 2010, USAID funded the Zimbabwe Agricultural Income and Employment Development (Zim-AIED) program that worked with banana farmers in the Honde Valley in eastern Zimbabwe to improve agricultural practices, access to markets and the production of high-quality bananas.

The Food and Agriculture Organization also implemented the Mupangwa irrigation scheme in the Honde Valley to help farmers improve banana cultivation and link them to markets and other farmers in the region.

Prior to USAID intervention, banana farming in Zimbabwe was a low-income enterprise. Farmers earned less than $200 per year due to a lack of formal markets and very low harvest yields. Bananas were only grown on a small scale and sold on the roadside to middlemen that took advantage of these small-scale farmers by paying low prices only to sell them for much higher prices.

Where monthly yields used to be only 30 to 50 kilograms of bananas, individuals are now able to produce over 1,000 kilograms per month. The region has gone from producing 2,000 tons in 2011 to more than 27,000 tons in 2017, contributing more than $7.5 million to the rural economy each year.

Banana farming in Zimbabwe has been wildly successful because the trees are easy to manage. Banana trees require a humid tropical climate, good drainage and fertile soil. The Honde Valley in eastern Zimbabwe ticks all of these boxes and thus is perfect for banana farming.

By 2015, about 600 banana farmers had received technical assistance in agricultural techniques. They were able to transform their farming practices to increase their production and incomes drastically. Those farmers then passed on their knowledge to neighbors and others in their community. Now, the Honde Valley is home to more than 5,000 commercial banana farmers, each earning an average of about $4,200 per acre per year.

Banana farming in Zimbabwe has opened many other doors for rural farmers and their families. Access to credit and bank loans has increased dramatically, school enrollment has increased and local small and medium-sized businesses have sprung up in the region. Young people that had left the country in search of employment have returned to eastern Zimbabwe to take up small-scale banana farming. Half of the African population is under 25 years old, so providing decent employment opportunities is vital for the young labor force.

Commercial banana farming in Zimbabwe has also empowered women. Women constitute approximately 60 percent of banana farmers in the Honde Valley. Many of the newfound banana farmers are widows trying to make ends meet to support their families. Other women help supplement their husbands’ incomes with the profits from banana farming.

Banana farming in Zimbabwe has helped pull rural communities out of poverty, improve nutrition and food security, increase incomes and empower individuals throughout the Honde Valley.

– Sydney Lacey

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe
U.S. citizens share a common misconception in attitudes towards foreign aid. Contrary to popular belief, the United States government spends less than 1 percent of the federal budget on foreign assistance. Of the countries receiving this less than 1 percent, Zimbabwe relies on the United States the most heavily as its number one foreign aid provider.

With improvements in HIV/AIDS prevention and economic growth, the benefits Zimbabwe reaps from foreign aid are more apparent than what the United States gets out of the deal. Oftentimes the successes in aid-receiving countries get the focus, but the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe in different, less measurable ways.

 

Bilateral Economic Relations

For the fiscal year of 2018, the United States is targeted to provide almost $150 million in funds to Zimbabwe. Why provide so much money to a country navigating a rather turbulent period of governance and recovering from years of economic decline?

By providing funds to Zimbabwe, the United States is working to promote Zimbabwe’s economic recovery. This provides opportunities for trade and investments that will benefit the economies of both Zimbabwe and the United States. As Zimbabwe’s economy continues to grow and prosper with the funds the United States provides, business opportunities in Zimbabwe will open up and allow U.S. citizens to take advantage of those opportunities.

 

International Cooperation

In addition to benefiting economically, by providing funds, the United States promotes positive international relations and thus benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe. The United States and Zimbabwe are members of many of the same international organizations. Both countries are members of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.

As the world enters an age of increased international interaction and communication, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe and many other countries by cultivating relationships with other international players.

 

National Security

From a national security standpoint, politically and economically stable countries are less likely to go to war or engage in any type of international conflict. Military leaders have seen firsthand how addressing poverty and disease in countries benefits the United States.

Zimbabwe is currently in an uncertain political period. In November 2017, Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years in office. After a week of military occupation, Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power and is serving as president until elections in August 2018.

The United States hopes to allocate its 2018 funds to programs that advocate government transparency, enhance political participation and create an active civil society. These sorts of programs have the potential to create a sense of political stability that contributes to the security of both citizens from Zimbabwe and the United States.

One of the critiques of foreign aid is that the U.S. sends money that is chewed up by corrupt governments. This is not the case. In Zimbabwe, the United States works directly with a variety of NGOs and community leaders.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe in many different ways encompassed by a variety of sectors. The economy, international relations, and national security are all improved by providing foreign assistance.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: IRIN

Sustainable Agriculture in ZimbabweThe landlocked sub-Saharan nation of Zimbabwe once enjoyed a reputation as the “breadbasket of Africa,” but in just over a decade it went from being a major crop exporter to a recipient of international food aid. Under the authoritarian government of Robert Mugabe, smallholder agriculture was neglected by the state, and productivity plummeted. As the country suffered through years of economic crises, sustainable agriculture in Zimbabwe stagnated. Modern Zimbabwe can no longer provide its citizens with food staples, and more than 40 percent of infants suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Agricultural Productivity in Zimbabwe

Low agricultural productivity in Zimbabwe stems from a complex web of interrelated issues. Farming practices like slash and burn agriculture have degraded soils, as has an overdependence on pesticides and other chemicals. The lack of crop variety is problematic; when a family cultivates only one crop, such as corn or millet, they have no recourse when drought decimates the harvest.

Recent rainfall patterns have shifted from their historic schedules, rendering ancient knowledge obsolete. Rains can be overly abundant or followed by long dry periods of intense heat. Farmers lack access to infrastructure, new equipment, credit, markets and irrigation.

The Impact of Climate Change

Climate change is widely recognized as a serious impediment to food security and sustainable agriculture in Zimbabwe. As a result, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. FAO has included in their Zimbabwe projects a strong focus on climate change resilience.

It encourages resilient livestock production through improved feeding strategies, fodder crop production, animal husbandry and breeding practices. F.A.O. promotes climate-smart technology and farming systems such as greater crop diversity, crop rotation, irrigation, storage facilities and improved processing and preservation.

F.A.O. and the World Agroforestry Centre both endorse conservation agriculture, which uses mulch to conserve water, improve soil health and minimize runoff and erosion. It includes practices such as:

  • Agroforestry
  • Zero tillage
  • Alley cropping
  • Integrated pest management
  • Organic farming
  • Contour farming
  • Crop and pasture rotation

Sustainable Agriculture in Zimbabwe Through Modern Cultivation Methods

In tandem with local partner Agricultural Partnership Trust, German aid organization Welthungerhilfe provides education, resources and community organizing to ensure better harvests for food security and surpluses for higher income.

Welthungerhilfe teaches modern cultivation methods using natural fertilizers and ecological plant protection to preserve soil health while improving yields. It instructs farmers on drought-resistant, climate-adapted crops such as peanuts, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. The organization also provides both chickens and training to help smallholders start chicken farms.

With Welthungerhilfe’s help, farmers gain access to grain stores for emergency use and protection against rodents. Welthungerhilfe encourages community, leading nutrition clubs and organizing farmers for marketing, better prices and improved credit access.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, both wildlife conservation and sustainable farming are becoming increasingly prevalent. Sustainable agriculture in Zimbabwe is intertwined with environmental and animal protection.

Farmers can benefit economically from efforts to save endangered species. For instance, the Rhino Conservation Trust uses the “horns and thorns” approach, paying farmers to manage and conserve local wildlife. It has funded sustainable agricultural practices such as protecting wildlife, conserving water, preventing deforestation and sequestering carbon in soil.

The good news is that people, animals and the environment can all benefit from sustainable agriculture in Zimbabwe. In the words of Raol du Toit, director of the Rhino Conservation Trust, the solution is to help farmers practice agriculture “in appropriate areas, using appropriate practices.”

– Anna Parker

Photo: Flickr

development projects in zimbabwe
Droughts, land reform and a decrease in production have plagued Zimbabwe since the turn of the century in 2000. But despite these economic challenges, there are five development projects in Zimbabwe that hope to alleviate some of the current struggles that common residents of the country face.

Zimbabwe Rural School Development Programme

Beginning in 2001, the charity Zimbabwe Rural School Development Programme (ZRSDP) was created as a means to counteract the lack of education that affects many children in the country. In 2016, the most recent accomplishment of the ZRSDP included the Peace and Good Hope Primary School in Bulawayo.

This school had grown to a student population of 200 since its foundation in 2002; however, it functioned with six desks, five benches and four toilets that served for not only the students but also two teachers. Devoting over 40,000 GBP ZRSDP helped create proper classrooms, toilets and teacher accommodations at Peace and Good Hope Primary School. Due to this increase in facilities, the school now holds 240 students and a full teaching staff.

Youth and Women Empowerment Project

The African Development Fund plans to create targeted employment opportunities and increase the value of sales in horticulture products for targeted youth and women. Running from 2017 to 2019, this project will cost UA 3.79 million. Through this project, the Fund aims to address fragility risk that threatens Zimbabwe’s development, which includes gender inequality, regional development imbalances, poor governance and technician skills shortages. Development projects in Zimbabwe via these efforts will really lay the foundation for future gain.

Integrated Urban Water Management

The government of Zimbabwe expressed interest in the African Water Facility’s program, “Cities of the Future,” in November of 2013. The project will handle the important water and sanitation infrastructure needs, and “the Municipality of Marondera with a population of 65,000 inhabitants was selected by the Government of Zimbabwe to receive support to develop an integrated water and wastewater Master Plan that will in part present detailed prioritized investments.”

Transport Sector Plan

A plan for sustainable development of the transport infrastructure could get implemented into development through this proposed study, “The target area is the entire population of Zimbabwe and transit transport that will benefit from reduced cost of movement of goods, persons and services as a result of improved transport infrastructure in the country upon implementation of the recommendations of the Transport Sector Master Plan.”

Lake Harvest Aquaculture Expansion

Lake Harvest Aquaculture is the largest integrated tilapia fish farm in sub-Saharan Africa. Expansion of the farm would offer more job opportunities, improved food security through low-cost protein access and increase government revenue.

Change is slowly but surely coming to Zimbabwe through each of these endeavors. These development projects in Zimbabwe are just the beginning of empowerment to the people, but in time they will serve as the catalyst for larger, more sustained change.

– Tara Jackson

Photo: Flickr

Buildings, streets, railways and airports are some of the necessities that make up the infrastructure of a city or country. The infrastructure of Zimbabwe has been struggling over the years to solidify itself, but as of 2016, infrastructure has worsened.

Concerning the infrastructure of Zimbabwe, there are corroded pipes, water leaks, sewage bursts and water shortages taking place in the capital, Harare. In reference to the mobile phone network, there is instability, with the government taking over Telecel, one of the three phone companies in Zimbabwe. To add, the socio-political infrastructure is unstable, as citizen engagement with the government is at its lowest level in over a decade.

Zimbabwe has tried to change things for the better but the country is still in a crisis. The economy is struggling and the politics pertaining to the future of the country are uncertain.

The infrastructure in the Harare showcases the instability in the infrastructure of Zimbabwe. The main issue is problems with the country’s water. The lack of maintenance of the water and sewage infrastructure is a major challenge the country is facing. As of 2010, only 50 percent of the people in Harare had water service all day, every day, while 55 percent of the residents had water that was poor quality. Zimbabwe made plans to redo water piping and began the process in 2009; by 2013, only 150 kilometers of the 6,000 had been replaced. By March 2016, only 40 percent of the work had been completed.

Even though infrastructure in Zimbabwe is struggling and facing issues, there is a plan to improve it. The main goals of the country are to rehabilitate and upgrade the bulk of the basic infrastructure assets and reinforce the existing integration of Zimbabwe’s network with other countries in the southern region of Africa.

The plan is to rehabilitate the national power grid, rehabilitate the national road network, the railway network, upgrade the status of air traffic communications, invest in storage to transport water resources, rehabilitate the existing water supply, develop national communications on a fiber-optic network and bring in a program of institutional reform and strengthening that measures to streamline the regulation of basic infrastructure services.

The process of rehabilitating and rebuilding the infrastructure of Zimbabwe will not be an easy feat nor will it be a cheap venture. Zimbabwe has had issues for many years, but with a plan developed and the desire to improve the country, infrastructure in Zimbabwe has the potential to be much better.

– Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Improving Women's Empowerment in ZimbabweGlobal efforts to achieve gender equality have made an impact on long-standing notions of male dominance in many countries. This change can be seen throughout the increased social and economic opportunities available to women around the world. The overwhelming evidence from research continues to indicate that gender equality is necessary for ensuring sustainable development. Thus, improving women’s empowerment in Zimbabwe is key to having a successful future.

The United Nations established 17 goals under its initiative known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A major tenet of the SDGs is to promote gender equality. In Zimbabwe, the U.N. has consolidated its efforts to promote women’s and girls’ empowerment through the establishment and implementation of laws, policies and frameworks.

While a push for greater women’s empowerment in Zimbabwe has been codified into law, the practice is oftentimes overshadowed by the actions of traditional society. Despite setbacks such as gender-based violence and limited financial opportunities, a couple of key steps in women’s empowerment have been made in Zimbabwe.

Supporting Women in Leadership

According to the U.N., women’s representation in politics and decision-making positions in Zimbabwe is still below those benchmarked in the SDGs. The UNDP, in collaboration with U.N. Women, held the Zimbabwe Gender Commission and the Women Parliamentary Caucus in support of a High-Level Political Dialogue regarding the upcoming 2018 elections.

Promoting Financial Independence

In 2012, the first Zimbabwe Market Fair was held in its second-largest city, Bulawayo. This two-day fair focused on empowering women and youth and equipped the 134 participants with “pre- and post-market fair training aimed at enhancing their capacity to exhibit and interact with customers.” This targeted instruction not only benefited women but caused a ripple effect on families, communities and the country as a whole.

There is still progress to be made in regards to women’s empowerment in Zimbabwe, but continued efforts through programs and dialogue are paving the way to a more gender-equal future.

– Belén Loza

Photo: Flickr