Home > Zimbabwe > USAID/OFDA success story: Fighting disaster-induced urban poverty in Zimbabwe

USAID/OFDA success story: Fighting disaster-induced urban poverty in Zimbabwe

During the past several years, Zimbabwe has faced an ongoing complex emergency due to a collapsing economy, limited access to basic services, political instability and violence, disease, and poorly maintained infrastructure. The effects of hyperinflation and unemployment have exacerbated poverty, while large-scale displacement in urban and peri-urban areas as a result of political violence has further jeopardized the livelihoods of vulnerable populations.

Since 2006, USAID/OFDA has supported the Joint Initiative (JI), an innovative, multi-sectoral program implemented by six relief agencies to fight disaster-induced urban poverty and restore human dignity in cities and high-density suburbs throughout Zimbabwe. The program seeks to improve the livelihoods and food security of particularly vulnerable populations, including households headed by elderly people, child-headed households, people with disabilities, children, and people suffering from chronic illnesses. JI activities are designed to be self-sustaining and generate momentum; a small initial investment enables beneficiaries to build a business or grow vegetables, thus improving their families! lives and their own.


In Njube, a high-density suburb of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe!s second-largest city, Victor Magwada expanded a home tailoring business with JI support. “I was working for Barclays Bank,” said Mr. Magwada, “[but] I had arthritis, became lame, and took a disability retirement package. However, with inflation, the money quickly vanished.” Mr. Magwada had been using his family!s manual sewing machine to produce small amounts of clothing for sale, but noted that “business was not flourishing.” Mr. Magwada!s wife, Christine, had been attending a JI home-based care training group. In April 2009, Mr. Magwada contacted JI to inquire about business training. JI responded swiftly, and the same day, Mr. Magwada enrolled in a one-week JI business management training course. Mr. Magwada developed a business proposal to produce school uniforms, hats, trousers, and work overalls for sale. JI approved the proposal and provided an electric sewing machine and cloth to support the expansion of Mr. Magwada!s business.

By August, Mr. Magwada had increased the sewing business!s weekly revenue from approximately $25 to approximately $120, providing much-needed income for his wife, 18-year old son Cliff, and 11-year-old daughter Tsitsi. “Now,” he said, “there is money for food, for rent, and for materials. We can even drink coffee, tea, and juice.” The electric sewing machine allows Mr. Magwada to work faster%he can produce 50 hats or 20 school uniforms per day%and with business proceeds he has bought additional sewing machines and a generator for times when the municipal grid does not provide electricity. Mr. Magwada also hopes to hire another worker to sew while he travels to deliver goods to customers. Before the JI intervention, demand for Mr. Magwada!s products had been high, but “I would often upset customers,” he said, “because I could not raise the cash to buy material. Now I pre-order 30 or 40 meters of material from my supplier in town, rather than purchasing 2 meters per time, because the supplier knows I will pay.” Through a small initial investment to help Mr. Magwada invigorate his business, JI helped the family generate income in the face of disaster-induced poverty.

Source – ReliefWeb, Sept. 23, 2009

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