NGO partnerships bear fruit

The year 2008 will be remembered as a time of great financial and political stress, when local councils were put under tremendous pressure to meet the needs of the people. Thanks to Mutare’s partnership with a local NGO, however, all was not lost.

A clean Mutare city centre, thanks to the help of local NGOs.
A clean Mutare city centre, thanks to the help of local NGOs.

In 2008 Mutare City Council was broke.

“All council refuse trucks were off the road and we had no way of collecting the rubbish. Dumpsites mushroomed across town, especiallyin the high density suburbs. Communal toilets were vandalized and then cholera set in,” said a local council worker, Simon Mashababe.

To make matters worse, an exodus of workers left the council understaffed and with no option but to look for help elsewhere. In order to avert the situation, the council, through the now suspendedMDC-T Mayor Brian James and his councilors, engaged various NGOs,private partners and individuals from the local area and the Diaspora.


In 2009, the council signed a memorandum of understanding with a local NGO, Mercy Corps, to rehabilitate 90 communal toiletsin Sakubva suburb where cholera was at its worst.

Mercy Corps and another NGO, in partnership with the council, embarked on a combined cholera campaign.

“We had to depend on the NGOs, since the council was no longer able tomove refuse and clean toilets. Through these partnerships, communities were galvanized into action and they worked with the NGOS. In a period of three weeks the roadside mounds of rubbish disappeared,” said Mashababe.

The success of the partnership inspired other councilors who took similar initiatives in their districts.

Mutare restored

Mayor James invited the business community to join the struggle and it responded positively by providing two trucks, fuel and drivers every Tuesday and Thursday for the health department to collect refuse. This effort restored Mutare.

In 2010, Mercy Corps, in partnership with ECHO, provided $22 000 for the repair of six refusevehicles that are still providing a reliable service today. In the same year, the Swedish International Development Agency advanced a $1m no interest loan for the purchase of wastemanagement plant and equipment. Through that loan, in 2011 the council purchased two compactors, a compactor dozer that the health service department shares with the engineering department, a grader and three pick up trucks that are used as utility vehicles.

“We are now able to remove refuse on schedule, compact refuse at the land fill, grade city roads, open new roads and service land standsfor the thousands of residents on the housing waiting list,” Mashababeconfirmed.

A welcome change

From 2009 until the present day, various NGOs, privatepartners and individuals have made it possible for 60 communal blocks of toilets to be rehabilitated and handed over to the local communities.

Practical Action and Indigenous Development Association of Zimbabwe have provided invaluable help with the planning, budgeting, governance and education of local communities.

Residents have welcomed the partnerships. “Had it not been for the work ofthese NGOs, the health situation in this city would have been disastrous. We hear the council officials saying they have no money, but these NGOs have done a lot in promoting good healthservices,” said a local elder, George Makedenge.

“I want to thank mycouncilor, Thomas Nyamupanedengu of ward 1 Sakubva, and Mayor Brian James for a job well-done. As you cansee, the bins are now being collected on schedule and the dumpsites have disappeared. The city is looking nice andwe really appreciate that,” said Cleopatra Chaka from Sakubva.

Mashababe said they would continue to look for partnerships that would ensure that residents of Mutare could live in a clean, safe environment.

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