In response to the global pandemic that is COVID-19 which has devasted the world with over 1.5 million deaths, DanChurchAid is implementing interventions that will strengthen the ability of poorer communities in Zimbabwe to fight it.
These interventions include detergent making training for more than more than 600 people conducted in partnership with local non-governmental organisation (NGO), Organisation for Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP), with the support of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations. The benefit to the community as part of these efforts include increased income, curbing the Covid-19 pandemic and improving livelihoods.
Run across three wards being- Mpopoma, Magwegwe, Mzilikazi and Cowdray Park- the project estimated to have cost US$5 000, was conducted in with facilitation from the Ministry of Women Affairs. It focused on how to make detergents such as dish washing liquid, toilet cleaners, hair, car and bath shampoo, pine gel, bleach, sanitisers, mosquito repellent, petroleum jelly as well as floor polish.
“For us, this work is becoming increasing important as we realise the number of female headed households in poor urban areas. On average, 21 percent of the female household heads have health challenges including chronic conditions such as diabetes, which potentially inhibits their participation in different forms of livelihoods, resulting in households adopting negative coping mechanisms such as sex work, child marriages and fragmentation of the family unit, to provide for their families.” said Mads Lindegård, DanChurchAid Zimbabwe Country Director.
Gender aggregated data, released in a November 2020 DanChurch Zimbabwe research report, laid bare the disparities in these communities, where females are taking on the traditional male role of household heads. 61.8 percent of households in Mzilikazi are female, 52.0 percent in Harare South and 58.8 percent in Mabvuku and Tafara. The majority are between the ages of 19 and 64, and approximately 10 percent are elderly.
Most alarmingly, the research highlighted a higher number of girls below the age of 18-years that are being married off, as households battle to cope with the different forms of urban socio-economic shocks. There are also escalating numbers of school dropouts, and high incidences of sexual and gender-based violence among other social vices.
In addition, DanChurchAid together with the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, donated up to 3,022 litres of sanitizers; 604 units of five litres of liquid soap; 21 footbaths, 43 thermo-guns for temperature reading and 189 handwashing buckets, to 32 schools in Harare and Bulawayo, between November and December 2020.
“We know that Schools through-out the country are in serious need of PPE to assist them in managing the global pandemic and safeguarding the lives of our teachers as well as our children,” said Lindegård.
In Bulawayo PPE donations were made to the following 10 schools, namely – Cowdry Park Primary; Gampu Primary; Insukamini Primary; Lukanyiso Primary; Magwegwe Primary; Mkithika Thebe; Mpumelelo Primary; Nkulumane Primary; Ntshamate Primary and Hyde Park Primary Schools.
While in Harare donations were made to the following 10 schools in Mabvuku – Mabvuku Primary; Donny Brooke Primary; Tafara 1 Primary; Batanai Primary; Tashinga Primary; Tafara 5 Primary; Mwanandishe Primary; Success College; Shingirayi Trust and Tshinhirano Primary School.
DanChurchAid is also assisting vulnerable families with school fee payments as part of the urban assistance programme.
Donations were also made to 12 schools in Harare South namely – Tariro Primary School; Crest Breeders Primary; New Royal Stars College; Simbaredenga Primary; Rujeko Primary; Kudzanayi Primary; Ruvheneko Primary; Mhizha Primary; Bradford College; Herentials College; Links Academy; and New Creation College.
The programme marks a departure from the traditional model where relief efforts are prioritised for people in rural areas – being historical epicentres of poverty- ignoring the urban poor. According to ZimVac, 7.7 million Zimbabweans are on the verge of starvation, 2.2 million of those people are in urban areas where livelihoods were severely affected by measures to contend with the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
Through its flagship urban social protection interventions such as resilience training, DanChurchAid is among other things, restoring dignity to the urban poor, improving household food consumption and nutrition, safeguarding the most vulnerable including the girl child, and preventing sexual and gender based violence in the community.