Director of Programmes: Regis Matimati
ZimAHEAD, as it is affectionately known in Zimbabwe, has played a catalytic role in pioneering a workable solution to achieve sustainable development and has provided training and technical expertise for other programmes funded by CARE, DFID and Mercy Corps. It is also the resource centre for a substantial participatory PHAST Tool Kit of visual aids for health promotion , which can be provided to other NGOs with a Training Workshop to set up Community Health Clubs.
Between 1997 and 2001, ZimAHEAD was well supported by funding agencies such as DFID, Danida and Oak Foundation. Two substantial health promotion, water and sanitation programmes were completed in three districts of Zimbabwe. Between 2001-2006 donors included LEAD, FAO and the loyal support of New Zealand Aid from 1997 -2005. Between 2007 -2010 our main partners were Mercy Corps and OXFAM-GB, for whom we implemented a programme in Buhera, Chipinge, Chiredzi, Mutare and Masvingo districts.
The AHEAD approach has taken root in Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Health has continued to implement health promotion through community health clubs, particularly in Makoni District where the programme has diversified to become a sustainable livelihoods programme, with over 5,000 nutrition gardens growing herbs and vegetables. The programme is responsible for initiating over 300 Community Health Clubs in this area. These clubs which are now the key CBOs in each of the 20 wards and are responsible for coordinating development initiatives such as health promotion and surveillance, water point rehabilitation, sanitation, nutrition, HIV/AIDS Care, Orphan and Widow support and sustainable livelihoods.
In 2007, despite the economic, political and social crisis in Zimbabwe (with inflation well over 10,000% and unemployment at 70%), the health club members are not only surviving but prospering. Sales from over 500 income generating groups have enabled women to support their families financially through the sale of produce. The economic activities that the income generating groups are engaged in are beekeeping (there are currently over 10,000 beekeepers in the programme), the propagation and sale of dried herbs and vegetables, carpentry, sewing, tin-smithing, and paper making. All of these activities have brought significant wealth to the area. In addition, ten health clubs have built a Training Centre and Community Market as a means of developing an outlet for their produce.
Zimbabwe AHEAD is actively seeking other funding partners to ensure that lessons learnt in this ground breaking programme can be scaled up and replicated further afield.