Self-help schemes bring hope to the forgotten poor

Capacity building and agro-business training programmes spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Development Democracy Trust (ZDDT) have brought hope to some residents in Bulawayo’s high-density suburbs.

Rosemary Tshuma
Rosemary Tshuma

While aid organisations have been working hard to help people in rural communities, town- and city-dwellers have often been neglected.

ZDDT is working closely with Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Gwanda and Gweru local authorities in a bid to empower local people through self-help projects, while also raising awareness of the importance of preserving the environment.

ZDDT is also running a pilot project in Machecheni area in Gwanda North.

“ZDDT has been able to restore ownership of the communities to people in most of the urban areas where we are operating,” said Simon Spooner, ZDDT’s national development officer. “We have also helped residents become more confident by facilitating neighbourhood restoration projects in urban areas. In all our projects, we have involved local authorities in those areas.”

Since its inception in 2009, ZDDT has been providing leadership, lifeskills and team building training to councillors, local authorities and communities in Bulawayo.

“We are currently supporting four wards in Bulawayo with projects such as nutrition gardens and leadership skills training. In all this, we try as much as possible to link development democracy with wealth creation and prosperity, which will eventually lead to a fully-fledged democracy in the country,” said Spooner.

One of the positive outcomes has been the setting up of voluntary and vibrant community action teams in the wards. “In some wards, residents, through the leadership of action teams, have restored dilapidated social amenities and sports grounds. Some wards, like Nketa, have planted trees. Some wards have also been involved in clean-up campaigns in their wards,” added Spooner.

Elly Msipa is one of the ward 16 community action team members. She

is also one of the founders of Kirimova nutritional garden, which has received support from ZDDT.

“I can only say that had it not been for the constant support of ZDDT and its team, including their agricultural extension officer, our lives would have been miserable. We’ve been educated in better ways of farming,” said Msipa.

“Since ZDDT came to our rescue, our crop yields have been tremendous.

We are now selling some of our produce to the market and can raise school fees for our children.”

Rosemary Tshuma described ZDDT as an architect of hope.

“We are a group of 20 widows who have been struggling to make a living. ZDDT has brought us hope by helping us to effectively run and manage our garden. We are now able to pay school fees and also buy mealie meal from cash we realise from selling our produce from the garden,” she said.

Spooner stressed that, unlike other organisations that gave out food and money to beneficiaries, ZDDT promoted a culture of entrepreneurship, volunteering and team spirit among communities.

“We believe in patriotic activism that promotes development and democracy. We see communities freed from the bonds of patronage, united in their commitment to a culture of service delivery and accountable leadership. We also value celebration of successes,” said Spooner.

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