Turning poverty into potential
Once on its way to becoming a middle-income country, Zimbabwe’s economy has deteriorated dramatically since 1997. The financial crisis of 2008 saw GDP fall by 17%. Added to this, stalling investments and climate change have damaged the agricultural sector, which supports 60% of the country’s workforce. About 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s population now live in chronic poverty.
Our Zimbabwe HQ in Harare also serves as our regional office for Southern Africa. We have field offices in Gwanda, Rusape, Mutare and Bulilima.
We’re concentrating our efforts in Zimbabwe on helping people harness the transformational power of clean, affordable energy and to reduce avoidable deaths caused by smoke from indoor stoves and fires. Alongside this, we’re supporting smallholder farmers, many of whom are women, so they can adapt to climate change and achieve a good standard of living through alternative, but enhanced productive uses of energy.
Our programme of work in the energy and agriculture sectors are focused on improving people’s resilience, adaptation and mitigation to the changing climate and empowering women to give them more control over their lives and livelihoods.
Gender inequalities are deep rooted and persistent in Zimbabwe, with female-headed households experiencing higher poverty levels. Empowerment is the answer.
Farming that works
Farmers in Zimbabwe face an uphill struggle to feed their families and earn a living. But our clever combination of knowledge transfer, skills training, solar powered irrigation and improved seeds is helping them to double their food production and increase their income. Read more…
Farmers in Zimbabwe face an uphill struggle to feed their families and earn a living. But our clever combination of knowledge transfer, skills training, solar powered irrigation, Climate Smart Agriculture, and improved seed systems is helping them to double their food production and increase their income. Read more…
Poor harvests caused by severe dry spells in the 2017/18 season have led to food shortages affecting many areas across Zimbabwe. Maize grain prices increased by 31% compared to the same time last year. On top of this, economic reforms have increased the cost of doing business, particularly for small enterprises. Limited access to good, healthy soils, efficient ways of storing and distributing water, and to sustainable agriculture production mechanisms, are among the key challenges faced by farmers in Zimbabwe. In addition, inefficient farming methods and the effects of climate change mean that the soils and other natural resources have been damaged and are less able to produce a bountiful crop.
The people of Gwanda were familiar with these problems – farmers were unable to grow enough to survive and were relying on food aid. We helped with a unique combination of solar irrigation, improved seeds and training in better land management and Climate Smart Agriculture, to make a dramatic difference to the yield from the land. Many of the farmers we worked with saw their harvest multiply by four times.
Over the coming years we’ll roll out our successful approach to even more people. By focusing on protecting the environment as well as on increasing profits we’ll make sure that our work benefits the planet as well as people. And our commitment to training and knowledge sharing means that our solutions will continue to be used by communities for generations.
Energy that transforms
The World Bank’s State of Electricity Access Report 2017 shows that countries with the highest levels of poverty tend to have lower access to modern energy services. This is major problem in Zimbabwe, where most people depend on traditional biomass for cooking and heating and lack access to electricity. The solution lies in entrepreneurship and sustainable energy. Read more…
Many people in rural Zimbabwe don’t have access to electricity. Our energy projects in the country are tapping into its most bountiful resource – sunshine. Solar energy is cheap and sustainable and is already transforming lives and businesses in Zimbabwe. Solar products range from household lighting to USB battery chargers, offering a range of safe, clean and affordable energy options.
Solar energy is also dramatically improving the lives of smallholder farmers. Previously, they spent hours pumping water using foot pumps to irrigate their land. Now, the sun is doing the hard work, with solar-powered pumps cutting down the time needed to irrigate land. Farmers now have more free time to spend expanding their businesses or with their families. Children who used to have to stay at home and work on the farm are now free to get an education.
Traditional sources of fuel such as wood and charcoal are being used up in Zimbabwe. Women and girls are the most directly affected by this because they usually have the job of collecting fuel. They have to go further afield to find wood – collecting it and carrying it back can take all day. Girls are unable to go to school and women are often prevented from starting their own businesses.
Improved cook stoves use a third of the fuel of traditional stoves, saving money and reducing deforestation. They also reduce indoor air pollution, improving health. Briquettes are made from waste materials like charcoal dust, sawdust and other household waste like coconut husks, which are compacted and can then be used in stoves, providing an affordable technology that is a safe and a cleaner energy source than firewood.
In November 2013, we won the Green Business Award for our work in renewable energy. The award recognised our work using solar energy and micro-hydro schemes to bring electricity to some of Zimbabwe’s most isolated areas.
Funding partners for our work in Zimbabwe include:
- United Nations Development Programme
- European Union
- Department for International Development – UK
- Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
- Isle of Man (IoM) Government
- Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
Postal address: Practical Action, PO Box 1744, Harare, Zimbabwe
Street address: Number 4 Ludlow Road (off Enterprise Road), Newlands, Harare, Zimbabwe
Telephone: +263 4 776 107
+263 4 776 631
Fax: +263 4 788157
Telex: 22195JHAPBS ZW (mark telexes ‘Practical Action’ giving both address and phone number)