Zimbabwe | ActionAid UK


Update: ActionAid is currently responding in Zimbabwe after the devastation of Cyclone Idai, which struck southern Africa on Thursday 14th March.

An estimated 2.6 million people have been affected by the disaster, and at least 480 have been confirmed dead. Thousands of people are still in urgent need in Zimbabwe. Please donate to the appeal today. 

ActionAid began working with local communities in Zimbabwe in 1997. We provide long-term supplies of safe water, like boreholes, help farmers improve crop yields, and support women with loans to help them build businesses.

We also train the poorest people in their rights to basic services such as healthcare, clean water and education. And our local staff provide emergency food and water programmes for people most affected by drought.

Why we work in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered by ZambiaMozambique, Botswana and South Africa.

After gaining independence in 1980, Zimbabwe’s food production has declined sharply as a result of the reallocation of land. Food scarcity has been made worse by severe droughts, meaning that since 2000, Zimbabwe has struggled to feed its people. One in four people in Zimbabwe now relies on international aid for food.

  • 100%
    In 2016 the effects of the El Niño-induced drought left almost four million people in need of food aid.
  • 42%
    42% of women in Zimbabwe experience violence from their partner during their lifetime.1
  • 5
    Women make up 70% of the agricultural workforce but less than 5% own land.2

El Niño, a cyclical weather phenomenon, is making the drought worse. Many families are living on one or less meals a day. Children are often too weak to go to school and struggle to concentrate because they are too hungry. With rivers drying up and wells overburdened, girls and women have to queue for hours to get limited water.

Women make up 70% of the agricultural workforce but rely on men to provide land according to customary law, which says that women should not own land. This makes it even harder for women to support themselves and feed their familes.

Melody and cousins eating porridge

11-year-old Melody (second from right) and her cousins eating porridge at their school in Ward 18 of Nyanga District, Zimbabwe. There are 3,143 children in this area receiving food support through ActionAid’s partner Simukai Child Protection, in response to El Niño related drought.

Photo: ActionAid

What we do in Zimbabwe

Battling the effects of drought

As of September 2016, the devastating effects of the El Niño-induced drought have left close to four million people in need of food aid in Zimbabwe. Many children have stopped going to school because they are too hungry and weak to walk to school. In response to people’s needs, we are running feeding programmes in schools across Matabeleland North Province, giving the most vulnerable children a daily meal of corn and soya porridge.

We also help farmers to improve crop yields with better farming techniques. And families are given the chance to take out loans from ActionAid-supported credit groups, helping them to build a business and provide for their future.

Tackling unemployment with women farmers

With estimated unemployment rates of up to 95% in 2016, many people in Zimbabwe are finding it difficult to cover their families’ basic needs, such as food and clothing. That’s why local ActionAid staff in the Nyanga region helped to set up the Rural Women’s Assembly, a collective of women who share advice and work together to improve their lives.

Tackling violence with our Safe Cities campaign

Nearly half of all women in Zimbabwe experience violence in their lifetime. ActionAid’s Safe Cities campaign educates communities on women’s rights, giving them the skills to make their communities a safer place for women and girls.

In Harare and Chitungwiza our local staff are training women to lobby the government for basic protection, such as street lighting, as well as training police to take violence against women seriously. The project will benefit over 30,000 women and girls affected by violence.

How ActionAid changes lives for good in Zimbabwe

ActionAid is giving vital support to communities affected by El Niño-related drought, helping women come together to earn their own income, and providing clean, safe water to prevent waterborne diseases such as typhoid.


Photos: ActionAid,