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

poverty in ZimbabweAfter 57 years of colonial rule, African guerilla forces wrested control of the territory that had been Southern Rhodesia since 1923. By 1980, Robert Mugabe was elected to the position of Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

Following Zimbabwe’s independence, the economy, which was mainly supported by the agricultural industry, fell on tough times. In 2000, the government chose to instigate a policy of land redistribution from whites to native Africans. This reorganization placed the fate of the country’s economy in the hands of comparatively inexperienced farmers.

Cash crop production, once a huge contributor to the Gross Net Product, was nearly lost as a result of unyielding droughts. Additionally, those farmers who produced the dietary staple maize faced further difficulty in production, due to the government’s lack of support in areas such as water management.

To further demonstrate the severity of the country’s situation, look no further than the 72.3 percent of the population living in poverty in Zimbabwe.

10 facts to clarify the state of poverty in Zimbabwe

  1. Since the early 1990s, roughly 20 percent of Zimbabweans have emigrated in search of greater economic prosperity elsewhere. This has left a large gap in the nation’s workforce and knowledge base.
  2. With the majority of males moving from rural agricultural towns to the cities, women are increasingly becoming single heads of household.  
  3. Poverty in Zimbabwe is mainly concentrated in the northern province of Matabeleland, and in the southeastern regions of Manicaland and Masvingo, where water is extremely scarce.
  4. As of 2015, 16 percent of Zimbabweans were food insecure, meaning they were unable to obtain nutritious and plentiful food for their families.
  5. Just 7.6 percent of farmers in Zimbabwe practice conservation agriculture, a method of soil management that ensures nutritious soil and increases crop production.
  6. Zimbabwe suffered from 12 years of sanctions imposed by the U.N. in opposition to President Mugabe’s continued rule after the disputed election of 2002. In 2015, the U.N. lifted those sanctions and offered the government $273 million in aid, which was intended for collaborative development projects.
  7. About 28 percent of children in Zimbabwe are stunted by a lack of adequate nutrition in their diets.
  8. Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product has been declining since the 2008 financial crisis. In the years immediately following the crisis, it fell by 17 percent.
  9. 86 percent of households in which the woman is widowed are impoverished.
  10. 57 percent of women living in rural areas use contraceptives. The maternal mortality rate is 960 out of 100,000 births, with a dramatic increase in rural areas.

The question now is whether or not Zimbabwe will be able to improve its situation in the coming years. Unfortunately, with the economic growth rate dropping to just 0.5 percent between 2015 and 2016, there may be a need for an increase in external development aid if there is any hope of reversing the effects of poverty in Zimbabwe.

-Katarina Schrag

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in ZimbabweOnce on its way to becoming a middle-income nation, Zimbabwe’s society and economy has experienced great deterioration since 1997. Approximately 72 percent of the country’s population now lives in chronic poverty, and 84 percent of Zimbabwe’s poor live in rural areas.

When looking at the causes of poverty in Zimbabwe, it is necessary to take the effects of the 2008 financial crisis into account. As a result of the crisis, Zimbabwe saw its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline by 17 percent. By comparison, the GDP growth rate for other African countries was five percent.

Although Zimbabwe made great progress to recover from the 2008 crisis, its GDP growth rate is declining since 2013. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), this decline is the result of stalling investments and adverse climate conditions that hurt the agricultural sector. Nearly 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s workforce is employed in the agricultural sector.

Drought and Poverty in Zimbabwe

As a result of the 2015-2016 drought that affected most of southern Africa, the rural poor have become more vulnerable to the loss of both their food security and their livelihoods. A 2016 study by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) shows that approximately 4.1 million Zimbabweans, nearly a quarter of the population, face food and nutrition insecurity due to the drought.

ZimVAC is a consortium of the Zimbabwean government, agencies of the United Nations, NGOs and other international organizations. Formed in 2002 to assess the issues facing Zimbabwe’s poor, it is overseen by the Food and Nutrition Council of Zimbabwe which works to find multi-sector solutions to the country’s food insecurity.

Some of the groups heavily impacted by food insecurity are children and pregnant or lactating women. Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the region as well as one of the highest rates of HIV globally, at approximately 15 percent as of 2014. Women and children living in food insecure homes are HIV prone and either already or in danger of becoming malnourished.

Children under the age of two that do not benefit from optimal breastfeeding are more likely to contract diarrhea or pneumonia. They may also not develop to their full potential. Acutely malnourished children under the age of five are more likely to contract diseases that require intensive care.

Drought and reduced rainfall also negatively affected the quality and availability of water. Almost half of households lack sufficient water for their livestock. Eighty-one percent reported having insufficient water for their crops. Zimbabwe’s average rainfall is projected to drop by 10 percent by the end of the century. IFAD asserts that the rehabilitation and maintenance of irrigation systems must be of the utmost importance to stabilize agricultural production. Improving irrigation systems would minimize crop failure, raise household incomes and increase food security for rural smallholder farmers.

To understand the causes of poverty in Zimbabwe, the poor performance of the country’s manufacturing industry must also be explored. Manufacturing surveys estimate that industrial capacity utilization decreased from 57 percent in 2011 to 36.3 percent in 2014. This is mainly because of an erratic power supply, a lack of capital, higher input costs, antiquated machinery and deficiencies in infrastructure.

IFAD believes that by prioritizing climate-smart, efficient agricultural production and investment in infrastructure and industrial capacity building, the causes of poverty in Zimbabwe will be diminished.

Amanda Lauren Quinn

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Zimbabwe
Tensions run high in the landlocked southern African nation of Zimbabwe. Protests and civil disobedience exploded in recent years in response to the government’s persistent incompetence and malpractice. Worse still, the government in Harare responded to the mass demonstrations with violence and unethical treatment, worsening the state of human rights in Zimbabwe.

Today’s tumultuous wave of popular dissatisfaction is tied to the ruinous drought in the region, which threatened food security for millions and contributed to shortages of cash. With the government largely unable to prevent mass starvation nor compensate civil servants, the Zimbabwean people fear another period of national suffering.

Only nine years removed from the beginning of the crippling 2008 economic crisis, Zimbabweans directed their anger at the government for its failure to develop the country and its disregard for human rights. These grievances only worsened with the government’s retaliatory agenda, which resulted in the unlawful treatment of activists and others.

Protesters in Zimbabwe often encounter police violence and arbitrary imprisonment, and many are charged with false accusations of criminal activity. Even non-protesters are arrested and imprisoned for days, demonstrating the government’s blatant disregard for the rule of law and due process.

Also, freedom of expression in Zimbabwe is incredibly limited, showing that human rights in Zimbabwe are far from meeting acceptable standards. Police forces in Zimbabwe frequently deny the media the right to cover protests, and many journalists are arrested and detained for indeterminate amounts of time on false charges. Violence towards the media is common as well. One journalist covering protests in Harare was even clubbed by riot police.

The government’s general disregard for human rights reflects the influence of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe has been in control of the government for over three decades, during which time he did little to modernize Zimbabwe’s social and economic institutions. Mugabe uses political violence and unlawful seizures of personal property to further his own interests, tyrannical behavior that is common practice for the government.

Under the Mugabe regime, human rights in Zimbabwe are vulnerable to repeated, malicious attacks. When people remain submissive, they suffer from economic, social, and political destitution. When they speak out, they experience brutal reprisals.

Despite its long history of transgressions, the current regime will not last. At 93 years old, the geriatric President Mugabe’s days are very limited. Hopefully, Zimbabwe can peacefully oust out Mugabe’s pawns and develop a stable economy and strong human rights protections. With enough support from the U.S. and other countries, the people of Zimbabwe can evade another economic crisis and inch closer to a truly egalitarian democracy.

Isidro Rafael Santa Maria

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is an African country situated just above South Africa. Known for their rich culture and sense of community, Zimbabwe is the twenty-second poorest nation in the world, according to Business Insider.

With 66% of Zimbabweans working in agriculture, it is not uncommon for diseases with agricultural origins to spread. Here are some of the most common diseases in Zimbabwe for those working in agriculture:

Cholera

Cholera is a contaminated food- or water-borne disease that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Both of these symptoms can lead to dehydration and even death. Between August 2008 and July 2009, there was a massive cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe. According to World Nomads, “cholera deaths have decreased recently, although the disease is still present and may break out again with little warning.”

Malaria

This terrifying disease spreads through mosquitos. For Zimbabweans working in the fields, malaria is a highly possible occurrence and “a major killer across Africa.” Protection from this deadly disease is a simple mosquito net. However, with the average African living on about $3 a day, even a tool that could save their lives is too costly.

Rabies

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that is spread in the saliva of infected animals.” Working outside with livestock, Zimbabweans in agriculture can be very prone to this terminal disease.

Although these three common diseases in Zimbabwe are especially susceptible to those in agriculture, anybody in Zimbabwe could become infected with them. Here are some of the other common diseases in Zimbabwe that could affect everyone:

HIV/AIDS

Zimbabwe has a very high rate of HIV/AIDS. According to World Nomads, “15 percent of the population has the virus,” and it is the number one killer of people in Zimbabwe. This sexually-transmitted disease is incredibly harmful and a huge issue in many African countries.

Typhoid

Typhoid fever is very similar to cholera in that this disease spreads through the intake of unclean food or water. However, typhoid is not always as serious as cholera. Symptoms of typhoid include high fever, weakness and stomach pains, but rarely death.

Measles

Measles starts when an infected person sneezes or coughs, and continues with fever, cough and red patches on the body. Although there has been some progress on the measles disease, it is still among common diseases in Zimbabwe. In the 1990s, “measles was considered one of the five major causes of morbidity and mortality among children aged <5 years,” according to the CDC.

These common diseases in Zimbabwe are an issue in the everyday lives of natives. With increased education and aid, these health problems will become a thing of the past.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr


Over the last few years, Zimbabwe has been in a major drought due to climate change. According to NewsDay, the residents of this African country have experienced “suffocating dry spells with uncertainties on when exactly the rains [will pay them] the long-awaited visit.”

The uncertainty of rain has led many Zimbabweans, especially children, to become undernourished and thirsty at all times. With 90% of agriculture being rain-fed, most of the food sources are also being destroyed.

This is where the international NGO Practical Action steps in. These expert problem solvers have developed a way to contain the little rain that does fall and allow it to be used for everyday water needs by harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe.

Practical Action states that one key source of clean water is through “harvesting rainwater as it falls and retaining it in the soil or in tanks below ground.” There are a couple of methods it has come up with to help store rainwater, for both irrigation and drinking purposes.

First, by constructing divots into the earth, people can trap the rainwater instead of letting it run off the land. This better sustains crops, which improves nutrition.

A second way to capture and store rainwater is with tanks. Practical Action gives many examples of how to do this, including water falling off of roofs, flowing out of dams or gathering up in puddles. Underground or above ground, tanks are useful for collecting rainwater and storing it for an indefinite amount of time until it is needed.

There are many benefits to this innovation. Harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe can be done whether there is a little sprinkle or a storm. The Zimbabwe National Water Authority said: “The claim that rainwater harvesting is only possible when the rains are heavy is, unfortunately, one of the biggest misconceptions that have scuttled rainwater harvesting efforts in the past.”

People can harvest rainwater year-round, so Zimbabwean families can see more impactful results.

Zimbabwe local and Rainwater Harvesting Chairman Tias Sibanda has noticed a change in his life due to his use of this system. He remarked: “Thanks to the water harvesting techniques shown to us by Practical Action… and with the contour field structures, we are now more ‘food secure’ and have no worries about soil loss.”

Harvesting rainwater in Zimbabwe could be a hugely beneficial technique to keep families healthy and happy for the duration of the drought.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr