The political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe has brought rising poverty and social decline. As in most countries, rural households register a higher poverty rate than urban households. Most farm incomes and production are inadequate and food shortages are rising. About 40 per cent of the road network is in poor condition, water and sanitation coverage is very poor, and railway freight traffic has declined by more than half since 1990, effectively isolating rural communities from markets.
The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe has declined, but the rate of 18.1 per cent remains one of the highest in the world. The sharp decline in the country’s population growth since the 1980s largely reflects the impact of the epidemic.
With the rise in unemployment and consequent male migration away from rural areas, households headed by women and children are increasingly common. These households are nearly always the most disadvantaged. Other vulnerable groups in rural areas are families with small plots of land, or without irrigation in dry areas, or without access to animals for draught power.
We have partnered with Jubilee Campaign to establish our first project in Zimbabwe in 2014. In 2015 we are hoping to open ‘Jessica’s House’ day centre which will serve 25 children, aged 0-5, providing a structured education, nutritional meal, medical care and proper sanitation. This will especially benefit orphaned children and those from child-headed families living in a rural village close to Mutare. There is no day care provision for these children at present and the nearest school is 5km away. The village has no water supply and young children travel 2 miles to collect water. This is a particularly dangerous journey where young children have been known to fall victim to rape and abuse. It is our intention to drill a bore hole at the location of the day centre, which will benefit the entire community by providing clean water and preventing children from travelling the dangerous journey.