Zimbabwe | ActionAid UK


  • 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, has increased the severity of droughts. 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

In 2016, the devastating effects of the El Niño-induced drought left close to four million people in need of food aid in Zimbabwe. Many children stopped going to school because they were too hungry and weak to walk to school.

In response to people’s needs, ActionAid runs 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%, many people in Zimbabwe find 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.

Cyclone Idai 2019

In March 2019 Zimbabwe was affected by a devastating cyclone that made landfall in southern Africa. 

Possibly the worst weather-related disaster to ever hit the southern hemisphere, the cyclone killed at least 1,000 people and left 400,000 without a home. 

ActionAid’s initial response included distributing blankets, water sterilising tablets, shelter, clothes and mosquito nets in the affected countries.

In Zimbabwe, we provided thousands of kilograms of food and cooking oil, distributed sanitary pads, underwear packs, towels and soap.

We also set up women-friendly spaces where women and girls could receive psychological support. 

Find out more about Cyclone Idai and how it affected people in Zimbabwe. 

How ActionAid changes lives for good in Zimbabwe

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


Photos: ActionAid,