Africa AHEAD has gone through a series of  stages, starting as a concept, before becoming a local NGO,  before beciming an International NGO, first based in Uk, then back to Zimbabwe. The organisation is founded to promote a certain school of development, using the Community Health Club (CHC) Model, as a vehicle for all community initiaties.

The CHC Model is a community mobilisation strategy, first conceived by Dr. J. Waterkeyn in 1994. Having developed the first  PHAST Tool Kit with Min. of Health (funded by WHO) which was used by Unicef for implementing PHAST in Zimbabwe,  Dr. Waterkeyn expanded  PHAST witin the franmework of a Community Health Club. This concept was tried  in a field trial funded for six months by Unicef in Rwombwe, Makoni District, Zimbabwe.

The community flocked to these first CHCs, which encouraged replication.  Funds were sought to scale up CHCs to another two other wards in Makoni, and this once again, prooved to be  a great success. In 1999, Juliet and Anthony Waterkeyn started a small NGO in order to replicate the approach in 23 wards of  Makoni, with 265 CHCs, supported by Danida  and Oak Foundation.  In addition DFID supported a large CHC roll-out in 3 wards of Tsholtosho  (32 CHCs) and 16 wards of Gutu districts  (85 CHCs) from 1999-2002.

When the Zimbabwe  economy  collapsed in 2001, all funding for NGOs dried up overnight, and the founders  had to leave the country for econommic reasons. Zim AHEAD  had to downsize for a few years, with the Chairman, Mr George Nhuhama, supervising the programme pro bono. The head office moved to Makoni District  where  the Community Health Clubs  continued their activities under the dedicated care of  Josephine Mutandiro and Andrew Muringaniza and their team of grass root volunteers, so proving the resilience of the model in a time of extreme recession. At the height of the recession, they constructed a Training Centre and ran a Nutrition programme with over 10,000 bee keepers and herb growers (supported by LEAD and FAO)

In  2006  emergency funds began to flow again in Zimbabwe and Zim AHEAD was asked to partner with Mercy Corps in Chipinge and Buhera District to roll out CHCs which then became the first Food Agriculture and Nutrition (FAN)  Clubs, funded by Big Lotterry Fund  and EC.

By 2008  OXFAM  provided funds for the  ground-breaking first urban project in Sakubva, Mutare, which assisted in mitigating against cholera in the 2008/9 epidemic. OXFAM became  a committed partner, with a  large CHC project in Chipinge District and Chiredzi, which was completed in August 2010,

In 2012  Zimbabwe AHEAD started 480 CHCs in Mberengwa and Gutu districts in partnership with ACF which were sucessful and set a new bench mark for commuity resposne with every household in all areas participating, and zero open defecation achieved in 429 villages.

By 2012, Community Health Clubs had been  established in  30 out of 57 Districts in Zimbabwe  due to the Dfid Funded Protracted Relief Programme which enabled the replication of CHC to other 20 international and local NGOs by systematic training by Zim AHEAD.

In 2013 there was a major programme in five districts in Manicaland and Masvingo, funded directly by USAID/OFDA produced  another 450 CHCs  and training was completed by the end of 2013, despite significent delays due to electioneering which closed down the activities of many NGOs.

In 2014, Zim AHEAD started two small urban CHC projects  in the towns of  Bindura (GAA)  and Chipinge (ACF), funded by the Unicef Urban WASH fund, and both achieved the same high response with Councils delighted at the increased response from citizens in their clean up campaigns.

ACF  then partnered with Zim AHEAD in Masvingo, and numerous training were done for other organisations wanting to start CHCs through the Protracted Relief Programme 11, again  funded by DFID.   The Ministry of Health was  by now in firm support of the CHC  Model and began to institutionalise the approach in Policy, which is now in both the National Water Policy and the National Sanitation Policy.

Also in 2014,  DAPP partnered with Zim AHEAD on a project in two new districts…

In summary, Zimbabwe AHEAD Organisation (later becoming Africa AHEAD) by 2015, had  started over 2,500 CHCs, reaching  250,000 CHC members and over 1.7 million direct beneficiaries since  2002.

In 2014  Africa AHEAD was registered in Zimbabwe as a Private Voluntary Organisation, whilst Zimbabwe AHEAD continued operating as a local organisation.

In 2019   the UK Board  decided to close down Africa AHEAD as a UK Charity and to move the main office to Harare, so as to  be better placed to source regional funding.

When Anthony Waterkeyn retired as CEO in December 2019, Regis Matimati was appointed Executive Director, and took over the leadership of  Africa AHEAD based in Zimbabwe.   Regis suceeded in raising almost one million US$ for 6 emergency projects, mainly in Chipinge to assist those made homeless by Cycone Idai, with 75 homes being constructed.

In addition  over 500,000 people were assisted  in one year, largely due to a vast handwashing campaigns at all the bus termini in Harare where handwashing facilities was provided for all those leaving the capital, with the effect of curtailing the spread of cholera.

By the end of the year 2019,  Zimbabwe had  reached over 1 million people in the past five years: the only country to have met  the 5×5 challenge set in 2013.

Africa AHEAD – Zimbabwe  continues to be the main driver of the CHC Model in Zimbabwe, providing training and training materials to any interested party as well as implementing directly.