Since 2010, we have strived to incorporate the UN Millennium Development Goals into our work, and have made significant progress within the Chinhoyi and Hatcliffe Township communities. You can read more about the Millennium Development Goals here.
What have Zimbabwe’s Children done to achieve Goal #1, Ending Poverty and Hunger?
School Feeding at Chinhoyi Primary
According to UNICEF, education is the most effective strategy for tackling and eradicating cyclical poverty. Children who have the opportunity to learn have higher chances of being able to afford good food and healthcare, and to send their children to school. This help halt the intergenerational cycle of poverty and brings families out of poverty.
However, hunger stops children from completing their education. If a child is hungry, they cannot learn or perform well in school. Åsa Skogström, President & CEO of The Hunger Project, has noted that severe malnourishment directly impairs brain development, having the same impact as losing four grades of school.
Currently, Zimbabwe is experiencing the most severe drought in over two decades. According to the World Food Programme there are 1.5 million Zimbabweans who do not have enough food. In the remote, rural region of Chinhoyi, communities are experiencing the full impact. Many families struggle to survive and their children were going without food for periods of up to three days. In response to this crisis we launched a Feeding Programme at Chinhoyi Primary School, providing a vitamin-rich meal to all students every day.
School feeding programmes are much more than just food-giving, particularly in times of hardship. These programmes promote a combination of education and nutrition that contributes to the cognitive development and physical well-being of children. They also concentrate on breaking the vicious poverty cycle by using food as an incentive to get children to school, and to keep them there so that they can learn the skills they need for future prosperity.
Creating Jobs in the Hatcliffe Township
Zimbabwe is also facing a soaring unemployment rate of 90%. Unable to find work, millions of Zimbabweans cannot afford basic food, healthcare or school fees, forcing their families into hunger and poverty.
Just outside of Harare, the Hatcliffe Township has been badly affected by this. Life here is constant struggle, and families have little access to food, sanitation and health care. Their reliance on donations and external aid was only a short-term solution. In order for these families to escape poverty and support their children, as well as the orphans left in their care by relatives who have died from HIV/AIDS, they needed to begin generating their own income through small businesses.
In 2012, we began working on a one-to-one basis with 24 families to help them become self-reliant. These families were failing to send their children to school, as well as provide basic food and healthcare. Since then, we have supported them in setting up a range of small scale, income-generating projects using their dormant skills. Families were provided with start-up funds and received training in how to write project proposals, set objectives and budgets, and undertake the day-to-day running of their businesses.
The Hatcliffe Township is not yet a fully developed area and its inhabitants depend on small traders such as these families. The performance of the projects has been impressive as evidenced by profits made, efficiency, innovativeness and hard work demonstrated by participating families.
Conservation Agricultural Programme
As a result of the prevailing drought, the fields in Chinhoyi are dry and bare, and cattle grazing areas have become parched. To help break the cycle of hunger and poverty, we needed to train families in farming methods that would protect their livelihoods and enable them to grow crops in spite of the dry season.
Working with Foundations for Farming, we delivered a three day, agricultural training programme aimed at helping the community become self-sufficient. The training was focused on reducing water loss from soil and protecting crops against extreme temperatures, using local resources that can be obtained easily. With these methods, a family of six can feed itself for a whole year from a very small plot of land. That’s one bucket of maize per week, for every week of the year!
Despite poor rains and the driest season in many years, those who have been following instructions from the workshops have harvested successfully. They are escaping the severe hunger that many of their neighbours face, and many even have surplus yield to sell in order to pay their children’s school fees.