Annual Report 2013: Regis Matimati (Acting Country Director, Zimbabwe)
Our Annual Budget was also the highest it has ever been at close to a million USD and our latest audit gave us a clean bill of health, which should encourage future partners. The USAID project was particularly important as we were directly funded for the first time since 2002 and this has given us the ability to approach donors directly rather than the sub contracting of projects which do little to grow the organization as they are typically short on capacity building elements so critical to sustaining core staff and keeping the office running between projects. ACF was particularly generous and supported our finance and non finance staff and in-house grant management. It is only a pity that USAID / OFDA completed their short emergency funding and were are unable to expand in these projects, as without exception the local authorities have been delighted with our outputs. The target in the ACF Programme were ambitious by any standards with 100% coverage of all villages but we achieved outstanding results which were highlighted internationally at the Water & Health Conference in North Carolina, where Africa AHEAD presented Papers in October 2013. This project has generated much interest internationally and we feel that in the field we have made an impact out of all proportion to our size as a NGO.
2013 saw an all time high for the number of beneficiaries we reached this past year thanks to proper funding at scale. With a small staff of only 12 Project Officers we started up a total of 883 Community Health Clubs and 73 School Health Clubs in 12 months. This amounts to 44,444 CHC members which equates to 171,445 direct beneficiaries. With our target to meet one million beneficiaries in 5 years we have achieved 17% in one year.
Zim AHEAD became more visible nationally as we made sure we were well represented at all national level WASH, Nutrition, Urban Rehabilitation, Education and Agriculture Networking Technical Working Groups. Various Cluster meetings were attended to keep the organization visible to network in order to build and strengthen partnerships. We continue to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, who have requested us to spearhead a national training for the Community Health Club approach, if funding can be found. To this end we have signed a MoU with MoHCW and are actively seeking such support to roll out our programme now that the CHC Model has been adopted in the National Water Policy (March 2013). All projects were well supported from Head Office. Staff meetings where conducted as planned to receive updates and reports as well as to issue out project and program logistics. Team leaders periodically came to the Head Office for such coordination meetings. I was able to visit the project sites to keep posted on goings on and to have a hands on feel of the programme as well as network with the stakeholders.
Staffing had its ups and downs this year: as we rose to giddy heights at the beginning of the year, our two major projects came to an end simultaneously in October, so from 30 staff we dropped back to our pre 2010 team by the end of the year. It is still an unfortunate reality that funding for Zimbabwe is scarce. Our organization still lacks the ability to sustain staff between projects as we are totally donor reliant. We had an ambition of starting a Training Centre as a means of bridging the gap left between projects, but these dreams were undermined by the reality of the situation in our sector in the current economic climate. We moved offices in Harare yet again at the end of the year as the landlady wanted the previous premises back. We are now even more well-housed at 1, Thurso Ave, Eastlea, with plenty of space to expand. We closed offices in Mutare and Masvingo at the end of the projects there.
We reshuffled our Finance and Administrative department at the end of 2013, and put in place more checks and balances to ensure the highest levels of transparency as we continue to increase our capacity to implement large scale projects. We now have separated the Finance from the Admin Department and with the resignation of Innocent Marivo, who left after 5 years in October 2013, we are delighted to welcome Janette Heatherton as part-time Administrator as well as Patience Muserupwa as Finance Officer. As Programmes come to an end our past partners IMC, ACF, Oxfam and Mercy Corps, have been exceptionally generous this year to the extent we have been donated 11 4×4 vehicles, in various stages of repair and of which we can retain 6 vehicles and 11 motorbikes for future projects. Zim AHEAD donated water testing kits and motor cycles to Chipinge and Chimanimani Districts’ Environmental Health Departments, as the USAID project wound up. This support was much appreciated and we are welcome to continue working in all districts, where the reputation of Zim AHEAD stands high.