In 2010, we resumed our work in Zimbabwe, where we currently support some 73,600 children and young people in 7 projects that are primarily located in western, eastern, and central Zimbabwe and are run by local partners.


From a model country to a poorhouse

Today, not much remains of Zimbabwe's former reputation as Africa's model country. Corruption and mismanagement under the administration of President Robert Mugabe have ruined the country. The economy and social development has stalled for years. Today, 95 percent of adults are either unemployed or underemployed. Two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line.

Zimbabwe has one of the worst HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world. One million children have become AIDS orphans. Our projects focus on supporting the countless AIDS orphans and educating the population about HIV/AIDS.

The challenges

Three little children staying next to each other, two of them look into the camera. (Source: Karl Pfahler)
Many orphans run their households self-dependently.

In the 1990s, Zimbabwe was called the breadbasket of Africa and it was deemed a model country for the continent. The agrarian sector flourished and produced important export goods like tobacco and flowers. The situation changed when Mugabe rose to power. Inadequate reforms and poor economic and financial policies caused economic and social stagnation. In late 2008, annual hyperinflation soared to several hundred million percent. Thanks to the introduction of laws that allowed the widespread use of the US dollar as legal tender in 2009, the economic situation has stabilised somewhat.

Zimbabwe has one of the world’s most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics. Due to poor sanitary conditions, there are repeated outbreaks of cholera and typhus. 1.3 million children are orphans. Whenever possible, they are taken in by relatives who are also poor, but children often assume responsibility for the parents’ household and support themselves.

Zimbabwe once had the best educational system in southern Africa. Today, 88 percent of all children still attend primary school. But the quality of school education is poor. Teaching materials are insufficient and teachers regularly go on strike.

  • Our work in the country

    Zimbabwe has one of the world’s worst HIV/AIDS epidemics. Every year, 14 percent of the population between the ages of 15 and 49 become infected with the disease. In order to curb the rapid spread of this immunodeficiency disease, our work focuses on providing access to information. What's more, programmes to alleviate the consequences of HIV/AIDS – both medical and psychological – are an important element of our projects and programmes. We help orphans without relatives who have to fend for themselves to receive protection and aid within the scope of village communities. Girls and boys who are traumatised by the death of their parents receive psychosocial therapies.

    Another focus of our work is on free legal aid for families who cannot afford a lawyer. Legal representatives help, for instance, to apply for birth certificates, clear up inheritance issues, and represent children who are witnesses or defendants in a court of law.

    To improve the nutritional situation of families, we train them in sustainable agriculture. Since 2013, we have been encouraging women to establish self-help groups so that they can collectively resolve their problems and save money.

  • Key figures on Zimbabwe

    • 13.8 million people live in Zimbabwe
    • The average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 56 years
    • 1.4 million people live with HIV/AIDS (8th place worldwide)
    • 14 % of people between the ages of 15 and 49 become infected with HIV every year (5th place worldwide)
    • 1.2 million children are orphans, 0.9 million of them because of AIDS*
    • 68 % of the population lives below the poverty line
    • 95 % of all adults are unemployed or underemployed (lowest ranking among 202 countries)
    • 88 % of children attend primary school*

     Sources: World Factbook, United Nations*

Zimbabwe: Combating violence against children

Zimbabwe: Combating violence against children

Sexual abuse, violence and neglect characterize the life of many children in Zimbabwe. Orphans are particularly vulnerable and often left to their own devices. We are committed to change this situation!

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How we work

How we work

Learn more about how we realize children’s rights.

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An overview of our projects and countries

An overview of our projects and countries

We are currently supporting almost 1.9 million children in 33 countries. Click here to read selected project descriptions.

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