SEED trustee and co-founder Jackson Nazombe visited Zimbabwe last month. These are his reflections.

SEED trustee teaches students
During his visit, Jackson delivered training for students

My overview of the situation in Zimbabwe from my visit is slightly depressing. The quality of life is hugely deteriorated compared to last year. Many of my friends and relations had not been paid for upwards of 14 months. Many more factories have closed. In fact I couldn't work out what was being made in Zimbabwe.

With rentals and other bills mounting, I have no idea how a huge proportion of the country is surviving. Food production has been hampered by poor decisions to turn to cash crops and basically growing things that are inappropriate for the soil types. The UN and World Bank have focussed on the worst food shortages each year for the last five years. Many charities have left or scaled down their activities because of the constant confusion over what is allowed by the authorities and what is not.

The country seems stuck in this time warp: a place where people are unable to move forward but slip into greater and greater despair. Zimbabweans are generally optimistic people but this time, for the first time, I saw hopelessness.

Market garden visit
Jackson also visited a thriving market garden project

SEED's work is going well but seems like a drop in the ocean of the needs now confronting us. The few places where organisations are still able to intervene are like desert oases. Where people can access assistance and guidance, they seem to be doing better than okay, but it's not in many places. The worst hit areas are the urban, high density areas where most people where forced to escape to after the land reallocation program. In the rural areas people have a meagre subsistance survival but at least they can try to grow their own food. The urban communities have limited land and are dependent on jobs, which currently don't exist.

The shortages are affecting health and health provision, education and any personal development. Many people between the ages of 18 and 45 have left and become economic refugees in neighbouring countries, spouting a bout of xenophobic attacks because of overcrowding and the pressure on local communities.

SEED needs to change and upscale how it works: to help more people faster and in bigger numbers. We also need to do more work towards more long-term solutions, rather than often working with the consequences of the situation. With this in mind, we want to do more work with schools to include practical life skills in their curriculum. This will mean that young people leave school with more than just academic achievements but also with the ability to create various products and stimulate industry. We need to ensure that schools deliver in equipping young people in Zimbabwe for the problems they have to deal with.

SEED's trustees are now developing a strategy to address the problem at the source: to facilitate the strengthening of communities so that they can find long-term solutions to their problems. Please help us to make a difference to disadvantaged communities in Zimbabwe:

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