Partners in Zimbabwe
Click on a partner below to find out more about their work improving the lives of children affected by HIV & AIDS in Zimbabwe.
AIDS Counselling Trust (ACT)
Marondera District in rural Zimabawe, about 50 km from the outskirts of Harare, has a HIV prevalence rate of 20.1%. With roughly 1 in 5 residents HIV+ the repercussions of sexual violence extend far beyond the initial harm of an attack.
Egmont partner, the AIDS Counselling Trust (ACT), aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections caused by sexual violence, not just by providing victims with increased access to treatment, but also addressing the problem of violence against women. ACT’s project officers will engage men and boys at local beer-halls and community centres to question their current understanding of masculinity and gender stereotypes and promote behaviours that reduce domestic violence, increase family support and openness and promote positive perceptions of women. This project builds on ACT’s previous work that has seen an increase in the number of men accompanying their partners to HIV testing services, ante-natal care and prevention of mother to child transmission treatment, as well as a reported decrease in domestic violence.
Chiedza works in the resettlement area of Zvimba, 80km outside Harare. Land reform programmes in Zimbabwe have decimated the country’s agricultural sector and left many farm labourers without work. Labourers often hail from neighbouring countries but find themselves unable to return as their children were born in Zimbabwe and lack dual citizenship.
In Zvimba, poverty and squalor are rife and nearly 20% of the population is HIV+. Children are especially vulnerable, as they do not have any extended family to support them if their parents fall ill or die of AIDS related diseases. Chiedza provides nutritional support to struggling families and children, while training families in modern farming techniques to help them improve the productivity of their land. They support access to healthcare by providing transport for people living in remote rural areas, and paying for the cost of treatment. Chiedza also provide school fees and learning materials to vulnerable children.
Child Protection Society (CPS)
Despite the worldwide reduction in the number of deaths due to AIDS, among adolescents aged 10 – 19 years old AIDS related deaths are increasing. In Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, many HIV+ children are struggling to adhere to treatment due to difficulties in accessing appropriate treatment regimes, malnutrition (adequate food intake is essential in helping anti-retroviral drugs combat the virus) and, in some cases, a refusal to accept their status as HIV+. Often, failure to adhere to one course of treatment results in drug resistance, closing off that treatment option, a particular problem in Zimbabwe where a limited number of anti-retroviral drugs are available through public health services.
Egmont partner the Child Protection Society has been supported to identify 200 HIV+ children living in the high-density suburbs of Harare. Community health workers will counsel children and families to accept their HIV status, arrange second-line treatment where necessary, and monitor the health and treatment adherence of the children. Malnourished children will also be provided with nutritional packages to improve the efficacy of their anti-retroviral treatment. The children’s caregivers will be given business training and placed into support groups to improve their economic situations.
Hospice Association of Zimbabwe (HOSPAZ)
30% of Zimbabwean women aged 15 and over experience physical violence. In a country that has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world and where an estimated 1,300 people contract the virus every week, this puts the next generation of women at a high risk of HIV infection.
Since Egmont’s support began in 2008, HOSPAZ has worked to enhance the livelihoods of vulnerable children and adolescents affected by AIDS across five districts in Masvingo Province and Mashonaland. Volunteers are trained in caregiving, counselling for the sick and their families, and improving household nutrition. HOSPAZ provide financial support to people living with AIDS to help them buy the medicine they need to treat common illnesses and subsidise travel costs to medical facilities. HOSPAZ also identify and support young people affected by sexual abuse and violence.
Matabeleland AIDS Council (MAC)
Since 2012, Bulawayo -Zimbabwe’s second largest city – has experienced more new HIV infections annually than any other region. An estimated 20.4% of it’s 650,000 plus population are infected with HIV. Situated between the rural provinces of Matebeleland North & South, Bulawayo has seen an influx of young people fleeing the poor prospects many rural residents face after Zimbabwe’s disastrous land reform programme. This migration, combined with the country’s ongoing de-industrialisation, has seen the city’s unemployment rate soar to 25%.
Matabeleland AIDS Council (MAC) works to reduce transmission rates by providing testing and counselling, behaviour change programmes, screening for tuberculosis, awareness raising campaigns for young people and mentoring and support to youth clubs. Working with 250 young people, organised into 10 clubs, MAC aims to spread knowledge to reduce the likelihood of young people contracting the virus. Each club will pass on their knowledge to a wider group, increasing the reach of the project.
Midlands AIDS Service Organisation (MASO)
With an HIV prevalence rate of 13.5%, Zimbabwe is one of the countries most affected by HIV & AIDS. Since 2005, more than half a million people have died as a result of AIDS in Zimbabwe, leaving many children orphaned or in the care of relatives.
In Gweru, central Zimbabwe, where Egmont partner MASO is based, many of these orphans are cared for by elderly grandparents who struggle to provide for their basic needs. MASO is being supported by Egmont to organise these grandparents into support groups that promote sustainable income generating initiatives. Groups will be assisted in establishing communal gardens to increase their own food supplies and to draw an income from sales of vegetables to local markets. Grandparents will be given access to credit through group lending schemes. As a result families will be better nourished and parents/carers better able to meet the costs of school fees for children in their care.
While the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths is declining in Zimbabwe, this progress masks pockets of high prevalence in many areas. In rural Makonde District, northern Zimbabwe, adolescent girls and young women in Makonde are two to five times more likely to become infected with HIV than boys.
Working in the communities of Kanyaga, Murereka and Shackleton, where unemployment is as high as 90% and the nearest health facilities are over 35 miles away, Egmont partner Pamuhacha aims to reduce the number of HIV infection amongst young women and improve community attitudes to the rights and welfare of young women and girls, reducing incidences of abuse and sexual violence. Pamuhacha will also work to increase uptake of family planning methods and knowledge of sexual and reproductive healthcare.
In a country suffering one of the most severe AIDS epidemics in the world and where 55% of the population is under 24, reaching young people in Zimbabwe with information about how to avoid transmission of the disease is critical in reducing the prevalence of HIV.
Restless Development works in Matabeleland South Province, where the HIV prevalence rate is 21%. With unemployment at 80%, there has been a surge in the numbers of girls and young women resorting to prostitution as a means of survival. These girls are at high risk, not just of HIV infection, but also of sexual abuse. Restless Development works with healthcare providers, local organisations and civil authorities to deliver HIV prevention information and support to sexual abuse survivors and young women forced into sex work.
Rafiki Girls Centre
Rafiki started as a small church group in 2003, training unskilled young women to become housemaids. It is now a thriving education centre, supporting women aged between 17 and 25 who have lost their parents to AIDS or are particularly vulnerable as a result of a lack of education.
60 girls each year are given the opportunity to take nine-month long vocational courses, equipping them with the pracitcal skills to achieve financial independence. They can choose from classes in hotel and catering, tailoring and dress design, interior design, hair and beauty, nursery school teaching and nursing. 83% of students have gone on to further education or employment. Of those working, individual earnings average £1,500 per year, far above the earning potential of an average Zimbabwean. Rafiki also offers HIV & AIDS education both for the young women who are training and the wider community. Staff encourage the young women to go for testing regularly and provide counselling and support for those who are HIV+.
Rujecko Home Based Care Programme
Buhera in south-Eastern Zimbabwe is one of the country's most food insecure regions. The high number of AIDS orphans in the district puts a strain on many families who struggle to provide for the children in their care. The majority of the population is comprised of smallholder farmers who are reliant on sporadic rainfall as the once effective irrigation systems have fallen into disrepair.
Egmont partner Rujecko works to improve the lives of children living in single parent, child-headed and grandparent-headed households in Buhera. Out of school children and young people are supported with school fees, and their families provided with business training and organised into savings groups so that they can access credit. Young infants are given nutritional support and Rujecko officers are working with local agencies to provide birth registration documents so families can access government healthcare facilities.
In Matobo District, south-western Zimbabwe, the HIV prevalence rate is currently 17%. While reduced from a high of 21% in recent years, the effect has been an increase in the number of orphan-headed households, particularly those where girls and young women are caring for their younger siblings. Often, these households struggle to afford basic needs and survive on handouts from relatives and neighbours. Some girls resort to prostitution In order to survive - increasing their chances of contracting HIV.
Matobo District is characterised by sporadic, infrequent rainfall so even growing their own food is difficult for these vulnerable households. With Egmont funding, Sikhetimpilo will support 120 households across 69 villages in the district with training and provision of livestock for goat farming. Each household will receive 2-3 goats, which will be kept in a newly constructed village pen, enabling stocks to grow. Goats thrive in the semi-arid local conditions and their offspring will be sold to pay for school fees, uniforms and to meet medical costs. Goats milk will also provide a much-needed nutritional boost to the targeted children.
Talia Women's Network
Bindura, in Zimbabwe’s rural Mashonaland Central Province, has been identified as one of the country’s HIV ‘hot spots’ with an HIV prevalence rate higher than the national average of 13.5%. As is the case all over Zimbabwe, young women are most at risk of infection. With an unemployment rate of 90% and an over-stretched education system, many are turning to transactional sex to survive.
Talia Women’s Network has been supported by Egmont to support 100 young women caring for 500 children with vocational training so that they can earn a living and provide for themselves and their children. Women will be trained in basic crop and animal production before specialising in either hairdressing, tailoring or catering. Talia has also approached local businesses so that some women can receive training in the traditionally male dominated – and lucrative – vocations of carpentry and welding. The women will also be offered financial literacy training, so that they can run their businesses and plan for the future, and will be taught about sexual health and HIV so that they can make informed choices that reduce their likelihood of infection.
Youth Care Advocates (YAZ)
With an HIV prevalence rate of 14.7%, Zimbabwe is one of the countries most affected by the AIDS epidemic. Reaching people in remote areas with information on how to avoid transmission and treatment options for those infected remains a challenge. The growing usage of mobile phones, particularly amongst young women and girls who remain the most affected by HIV & AIDS, represents an opportunity to address this problem and reduce their vulnerability to HIV.
Youth Care Advocates (YAZ) has been supported by Egmont to deliver an advice and counselling service through the use of SMS and mobile internet services. Young people across 5 districts are able to sign up to a confidential, free of charge counselling service enabling them to receive individual advice and information of HIV, healthcare services they can access and be referred to by YAZ staff, and receive reminders for appointments. This service enables young people to manoeuvre the complex network of HIV treatment options and receive support and advice that many may fear turning to their family and friends for.