Africa AHEAD has gone through a series of stages, starting as a concept, 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, the Community Health Club concept was field trialled funded 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, proved to be a great success. In 1999, Juliet and Anthony Waterkeyn started a small Trust called Zimbabwe AHEAD 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 to Tsholtosho (32 CHCs) and Gutu districts (85 CHCs).
When the Zimbabwean economy collapsed in 2001, all funding for NGOs dried up overnight, and the founders left the country and worked as consultants spreading the concept to Sierra Leone and Uganda. Chairman, George Nhunhama kept a small project going in Makoni District where the Community Health Clubs continued their activities under Josephine Mutandiro (left) and Andrew Muringaniza (right) Their team of dedicated grass root volunteers, showed how resilient CHCs could be in a time of hyper inflation and political turmoil in Zimbabwe. At the height of the recession, a Training Centre was constructed with a Nutrition programme with over 10,000 bee keepers and herb growers (supported by LEAD and FAO)
During this period Dr. Juliet Waterkeyn was Director of Zim AHEAD, but not living in Zimbabwe and the organisation was run largely by Regis Matimati as Director of Programmes / Acting Director, assisted by Jannette Hetherton as Chairperson.
In 2006 emergency funds began to flow in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe AHEAD partnered 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.
In 2008 OXFAM partnered with Zim AHEAD in the ground-breaking first urban project in Sakubva, Mutare, which assisted in mitigating against cholera in an epidemic which cost the country over 4,000 lives. Partnership with OXFAM continued 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 highly successful, setting a new bench mark for community response with 100% coverage (every household participated) and zero open defecation achieved in 429 villages.
By 2012, Community Health Clubs had been established in 30 out of 57 Districts in Zimbabwe thanks to the Dfid Funded Protracted Relief Programme which funded the replication of CHC to other 20 international and local NGOs through systematic training by Zim AHEAD.
When Africa AHEAD was established as a UK charity in 2013, with Juliet Waterkeyn as CEO and Prof Sandy Cairncross as Chairman. Zimbabwe AHEAD came under its governance for a few years with Regis Matimati becaming Country Director. Zimbabwe AHEAD became Africa AHEAD and was registered in 2014 as as an International Private Voluntary Organisation.
In Zimbabwe, 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 being an election year which closed down the activities of many NGOs, the CHCs were able to keep going with locally based facilitators.
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 total Zim AHEAD by this stage had started over 2,500 CHCs, reaching 250,000 CHC members and over 1.7 million direct beneficiaries.
2015 – 2020
Founder Anthony Waterkeyn took over from his wife, Dr. Juliet Waterkeyn as CEO of Africa AHEAD, with Richard Carter as Chairman. When the main office was moved back to Harare, to be better placed to source regional funding, as a local NGO, Anthony Waterkeyn retired as CEO of Africa AHEAD in December 2019, Regis Matimati was appointed Executive Director, based in Zimbabwe.
2020 to present
In the past two years US$ 3 million has been raised for 13 projects, mainly emergency projects due to first to the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai, secondly with cholera outbreaks in the main cities, and in 2020 the threat of Covid 19.
Africa AHEAD – Zimbabwe played a major role in public awareness campaigns reaching over 500,000 people in one year, coordinating a vast hand washing campaigns at all the bus termini in Harare where hand washing facilities was provided for all those leaving the capital, with the effect of curtailing the spread of cholera and Covid 19.
Africa AHEAD – Zimbabwe continues to be the flag ship of the CHC Model. Our great resource is in the dedication and loyalty of our staff on the ground and a culture of being a caring family organisation.