New Zealand High Commission Pretoria, South Africa
New Zealand Aid Programme visits to Zambia and Zimbabwe
The New Zealand Aid Programme has a modest platform of engagement in Africa. Staff from the New Zealand High Commission, Pretoria undertake regular programme visits to stay in touch with the initiatives New Zealand supports.
In October, Thandiwe Moyana-Munzara, New Zealand Aid Programme Africa Manager and Loice-Gimoi-Alusala, New Zealand Aid Programme Administrator from the New Zealand High Commission, Pretoria made a programme monitoring visit to Zambia.
A major component of the trip was a field visit with Africare’s Integrated Maternal and Neonatal Child Health (MCH) Programme in Lundazi District. The New Zealand Aid Programme has contributed US$2,300,000 over four years to Africare. MCH is the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) top priority given the high maternal mortality rate in Lundazi, which is exacerbated by the fact that only 43% of women deliver their babies in health facilities with a trained health worker. The overall goal of the project is to reduce maternal, neonatal and infant mortality among 5,000 targeted mothers and their newborn children in four focus districts. The programme is delivered through Safe Motherhood Action Groups (SMAGs). These groups have been trained by the MOH and Africare in safe motherhood practices and have been provided with health kits and information necessary to effectively promote safe motherhood in their rural and often remote communities. SMAGs are comprised of community health workers, traditional leaders, traditional birth attendants (TBAs) and other community leaders such as teachers and village headmen. SMAG members also identify malnourished children in their community and facilitate a 12 day feeding programme, where mothers are taught how to prepare nutritious foods from locally available sources. If there is no improvement in the children’s health after the programme, then medical intervention is sought.
The programme has achieved great results, including zero maternal deaths in the sites where SMAGs operate, higher numbers of deliveries taking place in health centres, improved infant and young child feeding practices, reduced teenage pregnancies and early marriages, greater male involvement in maternal and child health issues, and improved knowledge on locally available nutritious foods and growing of nutritious vegetables.
In August, Deputy High Commissioner, Georgina Roberts and New Zealand Aid Programme Africa Manager, Thandiwe Moyana-Munzara, visited the Joint Initiative (JI) programme in the Mbare and Chitungwiza high density townships in Harare, Zimbabwe. The JI is a consortium of NGOs funded by a number of donors (NZ, UKAID, USAID and the EU) which implements an integrated programme that addresses economic vulnerability, food insecurity, HIV/AIDS and youth empowerment, for poor and vulnerable urban households. The New Zealand Aid Programme has contributed US$2,400,000 to the JI over three years.
The households visited were headed by elderly widows, some of whom were HIV positive, who were caring for their orphaned grandchildren. Most lived in homes with three rooms housing from 8 – 15 people. These households were benefiting from monthly cash transfers of US$20, to supplement their food purchases and low input gardens (LIGs). All three households visited had healthy gardens with a wider range of vegetables than they were previously growing e.g. strawberries, spinach, carrots, mangoes, tomatoes and onions. The beneficiaries explained how the fruits and vegetables had enhanced the nutritional status and food security of their households, which was particularly important as some of their family members were HIV positive.
We also visited a beneficiary of the programme who used to be dependant on the cash transfer and LIG programme. However due to her successful participation in the JI’s Internal Savings and Loans Scheme (ISALs), she had graduated from the programme and was running a successful business in the city, selling knitted jerseys and bed linen. With the support of the Joint Initiative she has received training on how to save money, identify small business opportunities, invest in income generating activities, cost and market her products
In a recent follow-up visit, the New Zealand Aid Programme Africa Manager was able to see that the programme continues to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable urban households in Zimbabwe. Key successes include improved food security through cash transfers and LIGs that supplement household income, improved nutrition especially for those who are HIV positive, economic independence through ISALs which have increased income for school and medical fees, and vocational training opportunities, business mentorship and access to microfinance for youths.