By Joyce Mukucha
The United States government has provided more than $422 000, a $50 000 increase from last year through its small grants funding to community-based organisations in seven Zimbabwean provinces to support initiatives that promote economic and social development in the country.
The U.S. Embassy’s small grants program has been extended to sixteen organisations based in Harare, Midlands, Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, and Matabeleland North. These funding sources are the Africa Regional Democracy Fund (ARDF), U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) small grants fund, Julia Taft Refugee Fund, and the Ambassador’s Special Self Help (SSH) Fund.
Announcing the funding at a grant signing ceremony at the US Embassy in Harare on the 13th of November 2019, Ambassador Brian, A. Nichols said the support will go a long way in building strong resilient communities. He congratulated the grantees and emphasised that the United States will continue to help the people of Zimbabwe through programs that help communities unlock their own potential and improve their living standards.
“I know you will all be extremely proud to learn your projects were the top 16 out of a pool of more than 500 applications! I personally approved your proposals after an extremely competitive and rigorous process. Each grant we sign today is matched by your communities’ investments of time, planning, materials, and labor.
“While the U.S. government may provide initial funding for these projects, the ownership and long-term success of the activities rests with you and your communities. We hope the benefits of these projects will continue for many years after the life of these small grants,” he said.
Ambassador Nichols added that the people of Zimbabwe were facing great economic challenges, however, there was enormous potential and resiliency.
“As the old proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. The self-help grants help advance projects that encourage future development through the ownership and dedication of the community.”
Amongst the grantees, is the Zimbabwe Community Development Association (ZCDA) that received $250 000 ARDF grant to enhance traditional leaders’ roles in promoting human rights of women and children in Manicaland Province.
In an interview with Spiked Online Media, the ZCDA representative, Camillious Machingura said the grant will enhance traditional leaders’ role in the promotion of human rights and civil liberties in Manicaland Province.
“The grant will be used to conduct activities aimed at training traditional leaders to execute their duties in a good manner which promotes women and children’s rights in rural communities. We want to see change in urban-distant communities in as much as promoting children and women’ rights is concerned so traditional leaders as custodians of law will help us to achieve this,” he said.
Under PEPFAR, The Zimbabwe Sunshine Group based in Epworth was one of the organisations that received the small grants to assist communities improve their living standards and provide care and support to orphans, vulnerable children, and their households.
The project is also aimed at enhancing the lives of ex-commercial sex workers who were well known for selling their bodies in exchange of money in an area popularly known as ‘paBooster.’
The project manager, Claris Mandombera revealed that the project will transform the lives of women as they will be able to have better ways of generating income as compared to being commercial sex workers. She said there was need to combine education advocacy as well as providing alternatives that will enable them to make informed decisions.
“President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant is meant to establish a recycling centre in Epworth. The recycling centre will directly benefit 100 people including former sex workers. This will ensure that there is less exploitation of women as well as reduction in the spread of HIV/AIDS,” said Mandombera.
The PEPFAR grant will also establish a maize and bean farm for 60 widows and vulnerable women living with HIV/AIDS and their families in Mutoko, Sped Grace Community Development Trust which received $11 000 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant to establish a fish farming project for 50 individuals including OVCs, families, and youth who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS in Doma.
Other organisations that have been awarded by the U.S include; Rujeko Home Based Care which received $10 000 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant to train and monitor 50 youth in sewing and carpentry Buhera, Southern Africa Crises Management Agency (SACMA) which received $12 000 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
The U.S.also awarded Triple S Centre of Hope Trust a $2 514 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant to establish a poultry project generating income in Domboshava to care for 37 OVCs and increase nutrition, Uzumba Orphan Care (UOC) which received $10 259 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant to improve the standard of living through poultry and goat rearing for 87 people living with HIV/AIDS in Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe, Hope Worldwide Zimbabwe that received $8 981 Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund grant to provide sewing skills and educate communities on menstruation with a selection of 140 women from Mufakose will be trained in the reusable sanitary ware production.
Live the Word which received $13 502 Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund grant to establish an animal husbandry commercialisation training facility focusing on goats and indigenous chickens for 150 individuals in Chimanimani among other community organisations.
The Embassy has supported community development projects that improve basic economic or social conditions at the village level all across the country since 1980, at Zimbabwe’s independence. It has awarded more than $2 million projects for community-driven projects over the past ten years.