Since Zimbabwe’s independence, the American people, through USAID, have contributed over $3.5 billion in assistance to Zimbabwe to increase food security, support economic resilience, improve health outcomes, and promote democratic governance.
Three of the main health threats facing the people of Zimbabwe are HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria. These diseases contribute significantly to maternal and childhood illness and deaths. According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 2019, maternal mortality ratio in Zimbabwe is 462 per 100,000 live births and infant mortality is 47 per 1,000 live births. Adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24 years are particularly vulnerable to HIV. They represent 10 percent of the total population but account for 25 percent of all HIV infections. Tuberculosis compounds the effects of HIV; the co-infection rate is 62 percent (Global Tuberculosis Report, 2019). USAID supports programs to reduce preventable deaths and lessen the disease burden, especially among adolescent girls, women, and children under five.
Agriculture and Food Security
Through Feed the Future, USAID has helped over 200,000 smallholder farmers since 2010. Through the Fostering Agribusiness for Resilient Markets (FARM) activity, USAID aims to commercialize smallholder agricultural production by providing inclusive economic opportunities to 20,000 smallholder farmers and private sector partnerships along viable agricultural value chains. In addition, the activity seeks to increase smallholder production and productivity, improve household nutrition and hygiene, increase household incomes, and ultimately reduce rural poverty.
USAID, through the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe. USAID provides life-saving humanitarian assistance — including food, water, shelter, protection, emergency healthcare, sanitation and hygiene, and critical nutrition services — to Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people. USAID takes a holistic look at humanitarian aid, providing assistance before, during, and after a crisis — from readiness and response, to relief and recovery. This includes resilience-building programs designed to address the root causes of food insecurity and gradually reduce the need for seasonal food assistance. During the 2020-21 lean season, over one million Zimbabweans benefitted from the U.S. Government emergency food assistance. To boost long-term food security, USAID currently has four resilience programs, including two new five-year Resilience Food Security Activities.
Through integrated bilateral and regional programs, USAID works with communities and landowners in wildlife-rich areas of the Southeast Lowveld and the Greater Limpopo Trans-Frontier Conservation Area to strengthen community-based natural resource practices. In addition to improving communities’ management of water, land, and wildlife resources, the programs boost community resilience through capacity building and by establishing incentives to combat wildlife crime in national parks and conservancies.
Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
USAID aims to reduce gender disparities and empower women and girls to realize their rights, determine their own life goals, and help Zimbabwe build a prosperous future by ensuring that development programs emphasize creating space for women and girls to be a part of decision-making processes in their communities and homes. Many USAID activities enlist men as gender champions to promote the idea that women and men should equitably share in household and economic resources, control over decision-making, and access to services.
USAID investments in Zimbabwe support a broad portfolio of health programs. USAID/Zimbabwe provides treatment for and prevention of diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria and helps increase access to reproductive, maternal, and child health care services for families. Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we help to reduce illness and deaths caused by the HIV epidemic, especially among women and children. In addition, the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative supports the objectives of Zimbabwe’s National Malaria Control Program by providing commodities, spraying to eliminate mosquitoes, and by supporting the diagnosis and treatment of malaria in 45 districts.
Malaria remains among the leading causes of illness and death in Zimbabwe. Pregnant women and children under five are among the most vulnerable, and nearly 70% of the population lives in areas at risk. According to the Zimbabwe National Malaria Control Program, the malaria incidence rate was 32 per 1,000 population in 2020. In 2011, the U.S. Government’s President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) designated Zimbabwe as a recipient country. Through USAID, PMI works to prevent malaria transmission and improve treatment to reduce malaria related deaths through support for indoor residual spraying, procurement and distribution of long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets for both indoor and outdoor sleeping spaces, and through improved management of malaria cases. PMI provides vital commodities such as mosquito nets, rapid diagnostic tests, and life-saving medications. It also trains health care workers, promotes social and behavior change to increase uptake of malaria prevention interventions, and improves malaria surveillance systems.
In the last 10 years, the coordinated efforts of USAID, the Global Fund, and the National Malaria Control Program have contributed to a substantial drop in malaria incidence in Zimbabwe from 49 per 1,000 population in 2009 to 32 cases per 1,000 population in 2019 – a 35 percent reduction.
Democracy and Governance
USAID promotes democratic governance by supporting Zimbabwean efforts to improve government accountability and responsiveness to citizens’ needs. It supports the advancement of fundamental freedoms, democratic principles, and participatory decision-making processes, with the goal of improving the lives of all Zimbabweans. To strengthen accountability systems, USAID assists Parliament to increase its independence and effectiveness, improves inclusive electoral processes to better reflect citizen voices, expands access to information, and activates mechanisms for citizen advocacy and oversight. USAID builds social cohesion by equipping citizens and communities with skills and tools to prevent, mitigate, and manage conflicts and the resulting negative impacts on individuals and society.
Youth make up 62 percent of Zimbabwe’s population, yet a recent study by the Youth Empowerment and Transformation Trust (YETT) found that 93 percent of young people are not formally employed. The majority of young people in Zimbabwe are operating in the informal sector, either as employees or as micro and informal entrepreneurs. They also suffer from high rates of HIV and other diseases. USAID recognizes youth participation in development as necessary to end the vicious cycles of poverty and unemployment. We partner with young people, the private sector, and civil society organizations to build the capacity of Zimbabwe’s future leaders, while contributing to economic growth and inclusive development.
USAID mainstreams youth economic empowerment in agriculture and food security activities to improve incomes, nutrition, and resilience against recurring shocks in Zimbabwe. In 2020, USAID launched a number of activities working directly with youth. This includes the Local Works Zimbabwe Youth Program, a US$5 million economic empowerment initiative. This youth-led initiative creates economic opportunities to address youth unemployment, increase incomes, and combat rising poverty among young people in urban and rural areas. Furthermore, between 2015 and 2020, PEPFAR has supported HIV prevention services to 785,000 at-risk adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 10 to 24 through the DREAMS program. DREAMS is PEPFAR’s “Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe” program.
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Knowledge of modern family planning methods (PDF 152 KB) is nearly universal in Zimbabwe. The 2010/2011 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Service (ZDHS) survey found that 98 percent of women and 99 percent of men aged 15-49 know at least one modern method of family planning. The ZDHS also found that, while the overall contraceptive prevalence rate has remained largely unchanged at 59 percent from the previous 2005/2006 ZDHS, there has been a significant drop in contraceptive prevalence rates in urban areas from 70 percent to 62 percent. Additionally, the national unmet need for family planning services remains static at 13 percent, fluctuating from 26 percent in Matabeleland South Province to nine percent in Mashonaland Central Province. This indicates a need to amplify efforts to extend family planning services to populations in hard-to-reach areas of Zimbabwe.
Maternal, Newborn & Child Health
Currently, Zimbabwe experiences one of the highest maternal (PDF 156 KB) mortality rates in the region (960 per 100,000), with six women dying each day of pregnancy related complications. Three quarters of these deaths are preventable, with the most common causes being postpartum hemorrhage, infection, pregnancy related hypertension, and malaria. Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care estimated that forty five percent of women who died of pregnancy-related complications were HIV positive. About one in 11 children die before their fifth birthday and 60 percent of these deaths occur within the first year of life. Pneumonia, diarrhea, and HIV are the most common causes of under-five mortality, all of which are preventable. Zimbabwe also suffers from increasingly high rates of chronic malnutrition, with one in three children chronically stunted.
Updated: December 1 2017
Zimbabwe is the 17th highest tuberculosis (TB) burden country (PDF 156 KB) in the world, and TB is the second leading cause of severe illness and mortality in Zimbabwe. The most significant contributing factor to the TB burden is the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Approximately 80 percent of TB patients are co-infected with HIV. This co-infection remains a major factor propelling the high death rate among TB patients in Zimbabwe. Most cases of TB are found in the urban areas of Zimbabwe. Over the last five years, the number of TB cases detected annually has ranged between 40,000 and 48,000.