United Methodist Committee on Relief

Union of Methodist and Walden Churches in Italy: Promoting Community-Led Initiatives in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo

*Terry Mukuka

Namandale Dam.jpgNamandale Dam, the community-created dam, is located in Kariba district where UMCOR works. Photo: Emmanuel Kasvosve, District Manager for UMCOR  

With support from the Otto per Mille of the Waldensian Church of Italy (Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches), UMCOR’s country offices in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are working with communities through a community-driven development and participatory project called, Sustainable Healthy Living for Vulnerable Communities. The objective of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) sustainable development program is to support innovative ways to provide poverty reduction assistance in the poorest communities and households.

The Otto per Mille of the Waldensian Church recently committed more than $150,000 to the project. These funds will help increase the capacity of communities in Zimbabwe and DRC to identify and address their needs by supporting local community leadership to plan, manage, and implement appropriate development projects in the sectors of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), nutrition and livelihoods (asset building). UMCOR is very pleased to work with Otto per Mille to support these initiatives. Community-driven development and supporting local leadership structures are best for sustainable growth and long-term results.

UMCOR offices in Zimbabwe and DRC will facilitate community led-planning among different stakeholders (local leadership, government officials). This enables a greater focus on community priorities and building community assets like community nutrition centers and dams for improved livelihoods. UMCOR will provide support as necessary, but will focus on empowering communities to carry out the project activities to ensure ownership and sustainability.

UMCOR Zimbabwe staff will also mentor project staff from UMCOR DRC, having successfully achieved sustainable impactful projects among vulnerable rural communities in Zimbabwe. The shared learning will be applied to UMCOR’s other development programs to better address community needs.

*Terry Mukuka is Program Manager for UMCOR International Development.