The Sustainable Development Goals in Zimbabwe
The 2016 – 2021 Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF), co-chaired by Government and the United Nations, is the strategic document via which UN Entities channel their support to the achievement of the SDGs in Zimbabwe. The ZUNDAF, which comprises six result areas and fifteen outcomes is fully aligned to the SDGs. The six result areas are: Social Services and Protection; Poverty Reduction and Value Addition; Food and Nutrition; Gender Equality; HIV and AIDS; and Public Administration and Governance. The United Nations in Zimbabwe also supports Government to conduct regular monitoring and reporting on progress towards the SDGs at national and sub-national levels. In addition, the United Nations regularly facilitates national and local consultations and advocacy campaigns in partnership with the Office of the President and Cabinet, Government Ministries, Parliament, Development Partners, Private Sector, Civil Society Organizations, Youth Group, Media, and the Public on mainstreaming and implementation of the SDGs.
15 September 2021
Youth participation, engagement in building democratic resilience
*By Åsa Pehrson and Maria Ribeiro Six years ago, 193 UN Member States rolled up their sleeves to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global call to action to end poverty, inequality and to tackle climate change, while ensuring no one is left behind. Although 2030 seems distant, it is less than a decade or only two electoral cycles away in many countries. On the occasion of this year’s International Day of Democracy in Zimbabwe, the United Nations and the Embassy of Sweden have elected to commemorate Youth for Democratic Resilience. On this occasion, we call on national and local leaders to create opportunities for the youth to meaningfully participate in decision making and ensure their ownership of the SDGs, and to be part of shaping their future in Zimbabwe. With its largely youthful population, Zimbabwe could benefit from a demographic dividend though a combination of strategic investments and the adoption of supportive policy environment. Closing the gap between youth and their leaders is critical to strengthening the resilience of democratic institutions. Achieving a robust Human Development trajectory requires an equitable and democratic development agenda that guarantees higher standards of education, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health services, health for all and a green growth strategy that balances the management of natural resources with demands of development imperatives. Therefore, if development entails the improvement in people’s standard of living – their incomes, health outcomes, education levels, and general wellbeing – and if it also encompasses their self-esteem, respect, dignity, and freedom to choose, then the country must concentrate on addressing the underlying social, economic, and political conditions related to improving the participation of youth in democratic resilience. Some strategies have shown to be essential in this context: First, children and the youth participation in political discourse and democratic processes, including in multilateral fora. Many of youth in Zimbabwe have already been engaging with the United Nations and bilateral donors, including Sweden at youth-focused events, through model UN, climate action conferences, democracy talks, SDGs advocacy and other topical issues. This participation is essential to having young people’s positions and views reflected in the national development priorities. Second, it is important to ensure the right of girls and young women to education. While education is a human right, it is also an indispensable means by which girls and young women can realise all the other rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and indeed in the Zimbabwean Constitution. Levels of poverty remains stubbornly high throughout the country and have resulted in a decrease in school attendance. Young girls are especially at risk of losing their access to education as parents are more likely to send young boys to school if a choice must be made, while young girls are married of early for wealth creation. Out-of-school girls are more vulnerable to early sexual debut, teenage pregnancies, and childbearing. This in turn may result is sexual exploitation, an increased risk of HIV infection and other undesirable outcomes of sexual encounters. Denial of the right to education leads to exclusion from the labour market and marginalization into the informal sector, unpaid work, or early marriages. This perpetuates and increases women’s poverty and contributes to poor literary. According to the institute for Women’s Policy Research, graduating from high school alone increases working mothers’ earnings by over $1.60 per hour (over $3,300 per year). In contrast, each year of work experience is worth only 10 cents per hour. Third, sexual and reproductive health rights save lives and has long been considered a key component of socioeconomic development. In 2019, 7.1% of youth between the ages of 15 and 24 were married before the age of 15. Most women who get married at a younger age are often in intergenerational marriages, thus increasing their vulnerability to poor health outcomes due to early childbearing and abuse owing to unequal power dynamics. Zimbabwe’s maternal mortality rate remains worryingly high. When women and couples are provided with adequate sexual and reproductive health information and services, including family planning, we can ensure that every child is wanted, and every birth is safe. And we can enhance youth participation, particularly that of young women and girls in the fight inequality and to end poverty. Fourth, improved coverage and quality of health, water, and sanitation services for those who lack them would do much to reduce the burden of water-related diseases and to improve quality of life. Studies have consistently shown that improvements in water and sanitation coverage – including the implementation of low-cost, simple technology systems – can reduce the incidence of diarrhea, cholera, and other water-related diseases. Furthermore, providing water and sanitation confers multiple benefits beyond reducing water-related diseases, including alleviating the time and economic burden of having to collect water thereby also ensuring that women and girls who often bear the burden of walking long distances to fetch water are not exposed to personal security risks. Fifth, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a deep and disproportionate impact on youth and youth entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe. Although the youth have in many cases risen to the challenge by showcasing innovative responses to the pandemic from a wide range of young social entrepreneurs, additional support is needed to survive the crisis, to multiply their impact, and to lead the way in forging an inclusive and sustainable recovery. Finally, the more sustainable use of a country’s natural endowments-of land, energy and water is an essential part of the equation. Moving towards a more sustainable growth path, that is low carbon and climate resilient, will enable Zimbabwe to harness its vibrant and resourceful youth through engaging them in innovation and ICT to conserving its natural resource base while meeting the demands of people, so it remains a rich heritage for future generations. Let us close on noting the aspirations of young people in Zimbabwe – today, with over 60% of the population of the country under the age of 35, investing in young people and empowering them to realize their potential, is what will drive durable peace, co-existence, inclusive society, resilient democracy, and long-term wealth creation in the country. When young people enjoy good health, including sexual and reproductive health rights, higher quality education, decent working conditions, and are allowed to express their opinions and views freely they are a powerful force for democratic, economic, and social development. Investing in young people is one of the smartest investments that any country can make. A central premise of the work of the United Nations and Sweden’s history of supporting human rights and democracy before and since Zimbabwe’s independence are citizens’ right to participation, particularly that of young people have a critical impact on its development prospects and on the living standards of the poor. Investing in young people -- and providing both boys and girls with equal opportunities and the means to determine the number, timing and spacing of their children -- create the conditions to break out of the poverty trap and increase levels of human development. In a nutshell, a panacea for an egalitarian and resilient democratic society. As we mark the International Day of Democracy, each one of us is an equal part of the efforts to advance freedom from want and freedom from fear. Our small individual actions, joined together, can lead to a positive change for everyone and every community. Zimbabwe’s aspiration to becoming an equitable prosperous upper middle-income society by 2030 is dependent on the decisions that the country now makes with its youth demographic dividend. * Åsa Pehrson is the Ambassador of Sweden and Maria Ribeiro is UN Resident Coordinator, in Zimbabwe
1 of 3
24 June 2020
COVID-19 pandemic reveals investment in development reaps rewards during crisis
Cricensia Tshu, one of the nurses at Sipepa Rural Hospital, takes out the insulated case of vaccines from the refrigerator to prepare for the day. As with other days, Cricensia prepares to receive mothers as they bring their infants for their vaccination shots. Two years ago, this routine activity would not have been guaranteed. Unreliable power supply, which has affected Zimbabwe and most Southern African countries, created inconsistencies in the availability of vaccines which need to maintain a cold chain from the central pharmacies in Harare to Sipepa, over 550 km away. UNDP with support from the Global Fund and in partnership with Ministry of Health and Child Care, and the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, equipped 405 health facilities across the country with solar systems of varying capacity. These systems provide primary power for critical operations including in maternal theatres and wards; pharmacies for medicines and vaccine refrigeration; information systems; and night lighting in the facilities. “The experience from our partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, and Global Fund provides a platform to continuously invest in a robust health system that can adequately absorb the demand on health facilities” said UNDP Resident Representative, Georges van Montfort. As Zimbabwe prepares for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, the investment in 405 health facilities with solar grids will play a critical role in response to the disease. Power for medical devices, information systems and lighting will be important to contain the spread of the virus, provide care for patients and for real-time reporting of incidents across the country. Through the Global Fund, the UN has supported the National Response Plan to COVID-19 through the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers with US$4.1 million. UNDP is partnering with the Government, other UN agencies and the private sector to engage communities on information dissemination; support youth-led business working on the COVID-19 response, and to support the informal sector. Further, options for Global Fund support to the COVID response by the health sector are also being considered. The partnership between Government, Global Fund and UNDP to strengthen national health systems is supporting the country towards achievement of SDGs 3, 7, 8, 13 and 17: Good health and well-being, Affordable and clean energy, Decent work, Climate action and partnerships.
1 of 3
24 June 2020
Providing services to survivors of gender-based violence during COVID-19
“Our work with Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and advancing women’s rights is not stopping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, our contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 is to ensure that we continuously monitor and bring forward cases of gender-based violence through our members,” said Director of Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau, Ronika Mumbire. Women are largely affected both physically and emotionally while they are also at higher risk of infection as they respond to the crisis. Data from previous outbreaks’ emergency response efforts often divert resources from essential services, exacerbating ordinary lack of access to services, including pre- and post-natal health care, as well as contraceptives. UN Women Country Representative, Delphine Serumaga maintains that it is essential to address the immediate needs of women. “Everybody thinks that the world stops just because we have Covid-19 amongst us. No! That is not true. All other essential services must continue. It is imperative to ensure that women have an escape route when they are faced with abusive situations, while other individuals who are witnessing abuse must have adequate knowledge to advise or report such situations,” she said. Life-saving services for survivors of gender-based violence continue to be offered during Zimbabwe’s COVID-19-related lockdown, such as those offered by Bubi Shelter in Bubi district. This provides, not only shelter for survivors, but has also helps improve the reporting of cases. As part of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts, UNFPA Zimbabwe is working closely with civil society organizations and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs Community and Small to Medium Enterprises Development (MWACSMED) to ensure the continuation of GBV services. CSO partners include Musasa Project, Adult Rape Clinic, Family AIDS Counselling Trust, Family Support Trust, FACT, ZAPSO, ZICHIRE and World Vision. These efforts include equipping all supported GBV facilities – static and mobile one-stop centres, shelters and safe spaces – with COVID-19 infection, prevention and control (IPC) supplies. IPC supplies include masks, gloves, thermometers, temporary isolation tents for GBV survivors with suspicious symptoms, and extra transport support as alternatives to limited availability of public transport for survivors being referred to higher levels of care. These measures are critical to ensure that survivors receive the services they need, while also mitigating against the risk of exposure to COVID-19. As a safe haven, Bubi shelter has become a beacon of hope in the community. It shows what can be achieved when there is solidarity against the crime of violence against women and girls. The facility brings together religious leaders, councillors, and men and women from the community to discuss how to end GBV against women and girls in the community, explained Ward Councillor Mbizo Siwela. We are very happy and grateful for the shelter as it is doing a good job in checking and supressing GBV. “The shelter has helped bring to light the plight of the girl child through community forum meetings, where issues relating to prevention of and response to gender-based violence are shared,” he said. “We are very happy and grateful for the shelter as it is doing a good job in checking and supressing GBV. The shelter has helped improve reporting of GBV cases.” Currently housing 15 survivors and 4 accompanying minors, the facility shelters women and girls who have experienced GBV, mostly at the hands of those who are supposed to love and protect them. “Enduring this type of violence is not an easy experience,” said Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, UNFPA Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, during a recent visit to the shelter. “We must ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and that this leads to convictions. We must never allow this to happen as a community. We must also ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and that this leads to convictions,” she said. The majority of GBV cases registered at Bubi shelter involve adolescent girls. The facility has also emerged as a strong link in the referral system, ensuring that survivors get a comprehensive package of care. Bubi equips the survivors with skills and knowledge on how to deal with GBV, thus training them to become community ambassadors ready to help others who might potentially experience violence. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a tremendous effect on gender-based violence due to resultant socio-economic stresses. Cases of gender-based violence have been on the rise globally, as well as in Zimbabwe. In a normal month, the Musasa Project Call Center receives approximately 500 calls from survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. Within a week of the lockdown being enforced in Zimbabwe, however, we have received 592 calls from women and girls experiencing GBV.” This increase in GBV cases is worrisome, but organizations such as Musasa Project are working tirelessly to ensure that women and girls receive the help and services they require to overcome abuse. For instance, Musasa Project has continued to provide safe spaces to survivors of GBV who need to seek shelter away from their abusive homes. Through the joint global Spotlight Initiative of European Union and the United Nations is providing assistance to organizations such as Musasa Project to ensure survivors of GBV have access to quality GBV services. This support will prove to be even more critical as cases of GBV rise rapidly due to the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. To report for sexual and gender-based violence, contact immediately the following toll-free hotlines available 24 hours: Musasa Project: 08080074 Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA): 08080131
1 of 3
26 August 2021
1 / 11