It’s been a busy time for our Victoria Falls-based CITW Zambezi team. Sue Goatley, Programme Co-ordinator and Community Development Officer for the region, gives us an overview of their current Zimbabwean projects.
In a bid to establish a project in rural areas that would make a difference, CITW decided to utilise soft plastic and integrate this with traditional basket-making techniques. Basket-making groups that have been established by CITW for rural women in Zimbabwe greatly assist with economic growth and poverty reduction, while uplifting the community and encouraging women empowerment. A requirement of joining a basket-making group is that income earned will be used to pay children’s school fees, ensuring that children remain in school and gain an education. Alongside this CITW has also provided education to these women on household budgeting and small business management. Furthermore, the impact on the environment has been hugely positive, as litter around the villages has drastically decreased, as well as the amount of soft plastic waste that ends up being burned in rubbish pits. Over 300 women are currently actively involved in our Tsholotsho basket weaving group.
The CITW community goat project consists of CITW providing a strong male goat to a local community group of anyone interested in joining. As part of the establishment and initial contribution, each member is asked to contribute one female goat to the project. As a result of this, the newly introduced male goat breeds with the community-provided females, ensuring that new genes are introduced in this area. All of the goats from this point onwards are collectively owned by the community group, whose members are required to house, feed and look after these goats. Overall, the project is income-generating for the members, who are able to earn an income from selling goats once their initial stock has reproduced. CITW has found that goats are extremely valuable for villagers – therefore aside from using them for their milk and meat, rearing them and expanding the population opens up an opportunity for financial empowerment. So far three goat community groups have been set up at Ziga, Jabulani and Ngamo, all of which contain on average 20 members.
BOREHOLES AND DIP TANKS
Throughout our time working in the Tsholotsho area, the main aim of all the boreholes we have drilled and installed is to address the need for accessibility to clean water within the schools and wider community, and provide a long-term source of clean water for those living in its vicinity. The boreholes we install within our partner schools are greatly needed, as they not only provide drinking and cooking water for the schools to utilise for the students. But additionally, significantly reduce the time spent by children walking long distances to collect water. This in turn improves the students’ school attendance rates as they are able to focus on their studies, as opposed to collecting water. Boreholes within communities also greatly benefit community members, as they are able to utilise the water for their personal use, crops and livestock. Providing water to communities in central areas has also often been seen to save many community members a lot of time. To date in 2022, CITW has already set up and installed three boreholes in the Tsholotsho area.
In addition to these boreholes, for small-scale farmers in rural communities, access to primary animal healthcare can be limited. This leaves their livestock at the risk of reduced production or even death. Due to this CITW Zambezi has installed two dip tanks in two communities of the Tsholotsho area. By doing so, CITW is enabling farmers within the area to take their animals to these communal dip tanks to prevent disease. Reducing the spread of ticks and other external parasites reduces the risk of direct damage to the community’s valuable livestock. In turn these dip tanks therefore have a positive economic and welfare impact on the animals and communities where they are installed.
Working together with schools and communities, CITW Zambezi has begun to develop an informed, capable, well-resourced and highly motivated network of Literacy Centres. These centres aim at promoting the importance of and working effectively for the remediation and improvement of English language and literacy skills for all ages. To ensure sustainability and provide employment, we have been utilising school-leavers to conduct one-on-one lessons in these centres – in the mornings and afternoons for school students, and in the evenings for adults. Our literacy mentors have all undergone the Wordworks literacy training programme and live in the respective communities of the centres.
CITW strives to ensure that the teaching of literacy at all of our partner schools is done correctly in the preschool and infant classes. Thus CITW Zambezi partners with Wordworks in order to facilitate ECD and Grades 1, 2 and 3 Teacher Training. Wordworks focuses on early language and literacy development in the first eight years of children’s lives. The programme trains, shares knowledge and collaborates with those who care for, work with and advocate for young children, so that they recognise, understand the importance of early language and literacy, and support its development in homes, schools and community settings. So far in 2022, 55 teachers from both the Tsholotsho and Beitbridge areas of Zimbabwe have undergone a week-long intensive literacy training workshop.
Eco-Clubs are extracurricular groups that have been established at 22 schools throughout Zimbabwe. These clubs take place within primary schools and are facilitated by teachers who volunteer to become Eco-Mentors, and undertake training by CITW. The Eco-Club programme caters for the largest number of children, addressing and expanding upon the key environmental topics in the national curriculum, to provide students with greater exposure and a deeper understanding of the topics. As of 2022, CITW Zimbabwe has just over 650 Eco Club members throughout the country. One of several key projects undertaken in Eco-Clubs is the establishment of an eco-garden at each school. Eco-Club members tend to the garden throughout the year, planting a variety of crops, then harvesting produce, which is used as part of a nutrition programme run at each school.