Category Archives: Zimbabwe

What’s water got to do with HIV?

Georgia on panel (2)Georgia Burford, CAFOD’s HIV Strategy Manager, writes:

It’s another busy day at the 20th International AIDS conference in Melbourne. Today I had the opportunity to present at a session with Water Aid on how CAFOD is linking up the different areas of work we do. Working with some of the poorest and most marginalised communities, we address HIV and we address the need for clean water and safe sanitation. But people’s lives aren’t segmented into neat little compartments so our work can’t be either.

On average, a person living with HIV needs two and a half times as much water as someone who is not HIV positive. For example, someone living with HIV requires good nutrition in order for AIDS treatment to work. This means that they need to have ready access to clean water for growing, washing and cooking food.

Yet despite this increased need, people living with HIV will often face increased barriers to accessing clean water and safe sanitation. Misconceptions of how HIV is transmitted may mean someone living with HIV faces hostility when trying to use a water pump. Continue reading

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What’s changed in Zimbabwe: Reap what you sow


Chivi Mapaike

by Nana Anto-Awuakye

Chivi Mapaike is a 65 kilometre drive from Masvingo town. The tarmac soon runs out and the rest of the journey is a bumpy dirt-track ride. The Masvingo boulders now seem to loom out from behind every cluster of trees or foliage. The landscape has turned a dry, sandy colour, and I’m told that over the last few years the area has suffered droughts because of shorter than usual rainfalls.

The dirt-track finally leads us to a small village that is effectively built on top of one of the boulders.  As we climb up, there is no hiding place from the sun’s rays, which bounce off the smooth surface of the rock. Jacob, 57, is at the top, waiting to greet us.

Jacob has just finished doing some work on one of his plots of land. He has a furrowed brow and a serious expression on his face, but as he sweeps his arm out in front of him, pointing out his plots of land and his cows, his expression breaks into a smile. He is proud of what he has achieved over the last few years. He says: “I have been able to buy these cows because of the benefits conservation farming has brought me, my family and the community.” Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, CAFOD, Emergency, Zimbabwe

What’s Changed in Zimbabwe: New Masvingo Town FC


Masvingo boulders

by Nana Anto-Awuakye

Masvingo is the oldest town in Zimbabwe, and the area is famed for its amazing balancing boulders – gigantic, rounded, gleaming granite mountain rock formations that sit on top of each other and look like they’re threatening to tumble down on top of you.

It’s a five-hour, 300 km drive to Masvingo from Harare. The tarmac road is smooth and undulates across stunning countryside. It’s a busy road, and I’m told one of the most dangerous in country. It’s the route from the border with South Africa, and goods for the shops in Zimbabwe come in this way – the roofs of cars, vans and old buses are piled high with cross-border wares. All the vehicles travel at break-neck speeds, displaying the most daring over-taking manoeuvres, which have you firmly clutching your seat and performing imaginary breaking manoeuvres.  My driver cruises along, almost not noticing the crazy antics. He’s from Masvingo and knows every inch of this road. I’m in safe hands. Continue reading


Filed under Africa, CAFOD, Zimbabwe

What’s changed in Zimbabwe?

Boy-next-to-van-with-fruit-by Nana Anto-Awuakye

The taxi driver huffs and puffs, saying: “CAFOD, you are the last one to come out of the airport!” We both laugh out loud and greet each other with a warm, friendly handshake.

As we drive out of the airport and head towards Harare city centre, we go under a ceremonial concrete arch that has “Zimbabwe 1980 Independence” etched into its stone work in black lettering. My driver turns to me and says: “We are still waiting for our new independence.”  He doesn’t explain himself, just hopes that I get his meaning.

The country has just had a referendum that paves the way for general elections to be held later this year. I was last in Zimbabwe in 2008, when the country was coming to terms with the horrific violence that was unleashed ahead of the second-round vote in the presidential elections. The political impasse that ensued led to economic meltdown, creating a humanitarian crisis, which was compounded by an outbreak of cholera.

At the time, the shops were empty, selling only the most random of items. I remember visiting one shop that had bags of hard-boiled sweets on its shelves and little else.  I remember people telling me that the only things they could find to buy were toilet roll and popcorn, no bread. Continue reading


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Hungry for change: Food and the Year of Faith

Year of faith logo In the first in a series of ‘Food and…’ blogs, Linda Jones, head of CAFOD’s Theology Programme, reflects on how we can respond to global hunger during this Year of Faith.

Nearly 20 years ago I visited a refugee camp in Zimbabwe and was taken to see the ‘weighing station’ for babies. Even after all that time I cannot forget a tiny baby (whose name happened to be the same as mine) who was so malnourished that she hardly registered on the scales. Nobody who has seen a child who has never had enough to eat will ever forget the sight.

I smiled at the time, and congratulated Linda’s mother on her beautiful baby, who was on the path to recovery, but when I got back to the place where we were staying I wept. There is enough food for every single person on the planet to have sufficient to eat every day – and yet one billion people go hungry.

In preparation for our new campaign on food, Hungry for Change, I have re-read the story of the miracle of the five loaves and two fish that Jesus blessed, broke, and gave to the crowd of at least 5,000 people.

As often happens when you re-read a story you think you know well, this time I noticed a line that had previously passed me by. The disciples ask Jesus to send the people away so that they can go and buy food. But Jesus answers: “Give them something to eat yourselves.”

Thinking this through, I realised that Jesus is saying that we cannot sit back and wait for him to do everything. We have to contribute what we can, even if it is as small as a few loaves and fish among 5,000 people.

In this Year of Faith (launched on 11 October), we are encouraged to read the four Constitutions of Vatican II, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In these documents there is a consistent call to live out our faith in acts of charity and justice. Not to sit back and wait, but do what we can to serve our brothers and sisters.

Act now: Email the Prime Minister to call for a fairer food system > Continue reading

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Filed under Africa, CAFOD, Campaigning, Year of Faith, Zimbabwe