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Studies have shown that people with cataracts are less likely to take part in productive activities than controls with normal vision (Hannah Kuper and Sarah Polack, ICEH/LSHTM)
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6 people from the Zimbabwe Country office standing for a foto
Ms. Deborah Tigere, CBM Country Director (left) and the team from CBM Country Office in Zimbabwe

CBM first became involved in Zimbabwe in 1974. The main partners in Zimbabwe today are the Jairos Jiri Association and Zimbabwe Council for the Blind, through which contributions have been made to support persons with disabilities and prevention of blindness

CBM in Zimbabwe

CBM has supported projects in Zimbabwe for the past 40 years.

CBM’s work in Zimbabwe started in 1974 with the support to a mobile eye ambulance of the Zimbabwe Council for the Blind. About 24 projects have been supported since 1974 with a definite focus on medical eye projects and education/rehabilitation projects for blind people. Over the decades however the support offered by CBM to Zimbabwe has developed and changed based on the needs of the population, national strategies and the changing priorities of the organisation in the country.

In 2011, CBM held a Country Strategy (2012-2016) workshop in Zimbabwe which attempted to broaden the scope of CBM’s work in the country from the ‘narrow’ focus on medical programmes towards a more comprehensive programmatic portfolio. As a result, the scope of work was broadened to Medical and Rehabilitation services, Special Education, Livelihoods as well as the support to the Zimbabwean disability movement represented by the DPO’s and their Federation in an attempt to support advocacy work for the ratification of the UNCRPD.

Following the formulation of this strategy Zimbabwe was acknowledged as one of the CBM ‘strategic countries’ within the Southern Africa region. Due to this acknowledgment and to the active interest of CBM Member Associations, it was possible for CBM to access a significant amount of funding and start a number of new programmes in the country. At the beginning of 2015 CBM established a country office in Zimbabwe and thereafter, the ‘Country Plan’ (2015-2019) for Zimbabwe was developed.

About Zimbabwe

The Republic of Zimbabwe is a land locked country in Southern Africa with an estimated population of 13 061 239 million people based of 2012 census, inhabiting an area of 390,757 sq km. The country is divided into ten provinces – that encompass various cities and towns - for administrative purposes; inclusive of the capital city Harare which has provincial status. Zimbabwe uses a multi-currency system in which the recently introduced ‘Bond’ notes, the US dollar and the South African rand predominate. English is the country’s official language - although Shona and Ndebele are additionally spoken by the population at large - with Christianity and indigenous beliefs comprising its major religions. Zimbabwe’s main exports are tobacco, cotton, agricultural products, gold and minerals.

Zimbabwe is classified as a low-income, food deficit country ranking 156 out of 187 countries according to the United Nations Development Index. Currently 72% of the population lives below the national poverty line which stands at US$ 1.25 per day. According to estimates by the World Food Program (WFP), 30% of the rural poor in Zimbabwe are considered to be ‘food poor’ or ‘extremely poor’. Food insecurity and malnutrition is a problem especially for the population living with HIV although prevalence of the virus has been reduced

Disability in Zimbabwe

In 1992, Zimbabwe was of the first countries in Africa to enact disability specific legislation through the Disabled Persons Act Chapter 17.01 and it has since been a priority for the government to identify gaps in service provision for the disabled population. There has, however, been inadequate information on disability making advocacy, policy development and effective resource mobilization and utilization difficult.

To address this problem in 2013, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) conducted a ‘Living Conditions among Persons with Disability survey which had five objectives:
  • determine the prevalence of disability
  • assess and document the degree of activity limitations, participation restrictions and societal activities for persons with disability
  • ascertain the specific vulnerabilities that children with disability face
  • establish the accessibility of health and social services for persons with disability
  • generate data that guides the development of policies and strategies that ensure equity and opportunities for children and adults with disabilities
The survey illuminated that the prevalence of disability in Zimbabwe is estimated at 7% which amounts to over 990,000 individuals. The major disability types according to the sample are physical disability (31%), visual impairment (26%), multiple disorders (13%), hearing impairment (12%), intellectual disability (8%) and mental illness (6%).

It is approximated that 25% of individuals with disability acquire it at birth or before the age of 5 years and that a further 45% acquire disability before 20 years of age. Aside from those born with disability, the major causes of disability reported from the survey were diseases, congenital/prenatal causes and accidents (road traffic accidents, falls and burns)

Where We Work

CBM is currently supporting projects in all the 10 provinces in Zimbabwe:

-    Harare
-    Bulawayo
-    Manicaland
-    Midlands
-    Masvingo
-    Mashonaland East
-    Mashonaland Central
-    Mashonaland West
-    Matebeleland North
-    Matebeleland South

Our Country Priority Thematic Areas

CBM’s work strives to achieve an inclusive Zimbabwe where people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential by strengthening stakeholders (government and CSOs) to include disability in all sectors of development. Therefore the current priority areas of interest and operation are in:
  • Inclusive and Special Needs Education
  • Disability Inclusive Development (DID)
  • Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID)
  • Inclusive Eye HealthEar and Hearing Care
  • Emergency Response
CBM’s Zimbabwe country strategy therefore looks to achieve the following aims between 2015 and 2019:
  • A domestication of the UNCRPD in relevant Zimbabwean legislations, policies, programmes and a national   mainstreaming plan developed and implemented effectively.
  • Increased inclusion in community development of people with disabilities through strengthening of CBR programmes and national policies.
  • Zimbabwean health system strengthened and increased access of people with disabilities to health services particularly eye care, ear and hearing care, orthopaedics and rehabilitation services.
  • Zimbabwe inclusive education system strengthened and access to quality Early-Childhood Development and primary education for children with disabilities improved.
  • Improved access of people with disabilities to sustainable livelihoods opportunities

Our Partnerships

All projects and programmes undertaken by CBM in Zimbabwe are through the following partners:

CBM works in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) and the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare (MPSLSW)

Zimbabwe Council for the Blind (ZCfB):
  • Seeing is Believing: Strengthening V2020 in North East Zimbabwe
  • Bulawayo Child Eye Health Project
  • Mashonaland East Province V2020 Programme
  • Council for the Blind Vision 2020 Provincial Programme

Jairos Jiri Association (JJA):
  • Kadoma School for the Blind
  • Naran School for the Deaf
  • Community Based Rehabilitation Programme – Bulawayo Urban
  • Jairos Jiri National Office: support to Coordination, Vocational Training and Business Development
Africaid Zvandiri:
  • HIV and Disability Impact Mitigation Project
  • Strengthening Ear and Hearing Health Care
Reformed Church in Zimbabwe:
  • Masvingo Province Eye Care Program
Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ):
  • Supporting Disability Inclusive Development Initiatives

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