In the past decade, Zimbabwe has experienced political instability, economic collapse, food and fuel shortages, and cholera outbreaks. The United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index, which examines indicators such as health, education, income, income inequality, and life expectancy, ranks Zimbabwe 173 out of 187 nations studied.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) opened a country office in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, in 2009 to develop programs in its four core sectors of expertise:
- Social and community development, and
Since then, UMCOR has worked to improve the lives of more than 380,000 people in the country through a combination of programs that specifically address:
- Food security
- Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and Education.
UMCOR is the international humanitarian and development arm of The United Methodist Church. It seeks to alleviate human suffering by providing practical, proactive support to the most vulnerable survivors of chronic or temporary emergencies brought on by natural or human-caused events. UMCOR delivers aid to people in need without regard to race, religion, politics, or gender, and does not tie its relief and development activities to any political or religious viewpoint.
UMCOR works alongside local communities to identify needs and solutions, and collaborates with local and international partners, community groups, governments, and faith-based organizations, to respond to those needs in sectors such as livelihoods, health, shelter, and community development.
In Zimbabwe, UMCOR has focused its work to date in the provinces of Manicaland and Mashonaland East. UMCOR’s memorandum of understanding with the Government of Zimbabwe also covers communities in the provinces of Bulawayo, Midlands, and Masvingo, with scope for expansion.
Projects to Date
UMCOR is currently involved in the direct implementation of projects in the following sectors.
Food Security, Agriculture, and Livelihoods
Since 1999, UMCOR has enabled thousands of smallholder families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and, as of 2009, Zimbabwe to achieve increased food security and improved incomes through:
Access to basic seeds and tools
- Cultivation of thousands of new hectares of land
- Training in improved agricultural production techniques, and
- Improved conservation agriculture and watershed management techniques.
In response to chronic food shortages in 2009 and 2010, UMCOR provided 816 metric tons of food relief to 195,840 individuals across Zimbabwe.
In 2011, UMCOR implemented the Local and Regional Procurement program, a pilot project of the United States Department of Agriculture, with a grant of US $1.7 million. The program supported 68,129 vulnerable persons in Chipinge District, Manicaland province, with 1,596 metric tons of food relief, including cereals, pulses, and oil in accordance with World Food Programme (WFP) standards.
In October 2012, UMCOR began working in Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe (UMP) District, Mashonaland East province, as a WFP cooperating partner. Through the Seasonal Targeted Assistance program, UMCOR is helping 27,774 vulnerable individuals there, through March 2013.
Given the need to transition from food aid to sustainable food security in Zimbabwe, UMCOR, with local and international resources, is building internal capacity in conservation agriculture and developing a range of pilot projects in this sector for implementation beginning in 2013.
UMCOR’s Sustainable Agriculture & Development program is providing support for capacity building and training to United Methodist missions and smallholder farmers in the surrounding communities in three districts in moringa tree cultivation, apiculture (bee farming), and Integrated Crop and Pest Management (ICPM).
The United Methodist Church’s Imagine No Malaria initiative aims to raise US $75 million toward the eradication of malaria across Africa by 2015. UMCOR is a contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and to the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign.UMCOR has developed institutional capacity and experience through the implementation of malaria-fighting programs in Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Liberia.
In Zimbabwe, UMCOR has completed two malaria-prevention programs, covering 12 high-malaria-burden wards in Chimanimani District, Manicaland province. In coordination with the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) and district partners, UMCOR has:
Provided 45,437 long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to 19,199 households.
- Trained 449 stakeholders in malaria prevention and monitoring and evaluation. Stakeholders include village health workers; community care givers; local, traditional, and religious leaders; environmental health technicians; government health staff; school health masters; and ward councilors.
- Supplied Information, Education and Communication/Behavior-change Communication (IEC/BCC) support through drama and publicity materials in all program areas. This is complemented by a strong monitoring and evaluation component in coordination with NMCP and other nongovernmental organizations. UCMOR also works closely with church partners to increase the effectiveness of IEC/BCC components.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
In March 2012, UMCOR completed the renovation of the water system at the Nyadire Mission of The United Methodist Church in Mutoko District, Mashonaland East province. It now provides clean water to more than 4,000 people. The work included the rehabilitation of boreholes and reservoirs to provide safe water to a hospital, a preschool, a secondary school, a teachers college, a nursing college, and an orphanage. The program also included Participatory Health and Hygiene Education training for 30 health workers and 10 teachers, and WASH awareness training for 250 students and staff.
An assessment has since been commissioned to review the [clean water and hygiene] needs of the hospital and orphanage at the church’s Old Mutare Mission in Mutasa District, Manicaland province.
Social and Community Development/Education
UMCOR is currently developing a pilot project to support orphans and vulnerable children in Chimanimani District, Manicaland province. In coordination with local authorities, Child Protection Committees (CPC), and the Mutambara United Methodist Mission, UMCOR will provide support to 350 of the most vulnerable children in this area. Already, 300 primary and secondary school students have received support for school fees, uniforms, and learning materials, and another 50 children are receiving vocational training support. The program will also build the capacity of CPC members and support them through IEC/BCC activities to reduce stigma and improve the care of orphans and vulnerable children in the community.
UMCOR Offices in Zimbabwe
10 Lanark Road