While Zimbabwe falls apart, those in Health Clubs still thrive

Zimbabwe has been a least favoured nation for donors for the past five years as the current regime has alienated foreign investors in the Health Sector. Zimbabwe AHEAD was a small but highly dedicated NGO at the point of going to scale throughout the country when funds dried up. The past few years has seen it shrink to a faction of its former size, concentrating on Makoni District, where it has resolutly maintained its support of community health clubs, which despite the economic collapse of the countries have provided members with a safety net in these difficult times.Whilst others were grateful to scape a living largely reliant on Food Aid, health club members have been growing and selling vast quantities of vegetables, herbs, and honey. This income has enabled health club families to survive and even to prosper. As interviews recently show, many health club members have built onto their homes and woman have expanded their farming area. There are over 4,000 individual vegetable gardens in Makoni district, and 1,000 communal health club nutrtition gardens that have helped support those in dire circumstances such as the many orphans – a recent informal survey in the schools showed that in most schools, 50% of the pupils are orphans.

Last year Zimbabwe AHEAD, the sister organisation of Africa AHEAD, was forced to scale down to two remaining key staff, having laid off over 40 semi voluntary community workers. The organisation was on the point of closure, but was bailed out with support from Capernaum Trust, a Zimbabwe based NGO. This year we are happy to be able to team up with Mercy Corps, who having seen the relience of our communities in Makoni district, have asked the organisation to start up health clubs along the same lines in Buhera and Chipinge districts, two other highly disadvantaged districts of Zimbabwe. The partnership has been agreed and training will take place by May 2007.