Investing in the future: How UK aid transforms lives in Zimbabwe

Letwin Chisorochengwe at the counter of a local shop in Zimbabwe

UK aid is transforming lives in rural Zimbabwe, particularly for women

Women like Letwin Chisorochengwe, mother of two (pictured above), who received a cash payment to spend on meeting her family’s needs, under a CARE cash transfer programme that is funded by UK aid. Letwin said:

With the cash I receive, I buy food for my family. I was also able to use some of the money to pay the remaining 5 dollars that was outstanding for my children’s school fees.

How does it work?

The concept is simple: each month, poor and vulnerable households receive a cash payment into a virtual wallet on their mobile phone. They can either “cash out” (exchange their wallet for cash) with a cash agent or spend the money directly (known as “wallet to wallet” – or phone to phone – transfers) at local stores, schools, clinics and other businesses.

How does it help?

Injecting cash into the community enables households to determine their own food and nutritional needs, benefits local shopkeepers and businesses, builds local markets, and reaches vulnerable communities before irreversible hunger becomes a reality.

Who does it help?

Southern Africa has been experiencing its worst drought in 35 years, and Zimbabwe’s arid south is particularly prone. An estimated four million Zimbabweans do not have enough food to eat. The CARE project, funded by UK aid, is currently reaching around 400,000 people in the country’s south.

Here are some of their stories.

The student

Shuvai Mashiri showing off a paper with her academic results
Shuvai Mashiri showing off the paper with her academic results

The cash helped me when there was severe hunger in my household.

“I also used some of the money to buy two goats because there was nothing here – no livestock, no chickens – and I had nothing to feed my family.

“I was also studying but without enough food, I was finding it difficult to concentrate. With the remaining cash, I studied here in my home. I was able to sit my exams and I passed.

With my education I can get a job so that during the times when the rains are not good, I can look after my children.

The elderly

Susan Zidyauswa with her elderly mother, Mazvipesa Mapingure
Susan Zidyauswa (above right) lives with her elderly mother, Mazvipesa Mapingure (above left)

“I buy mealie [maize] meal because sadza is our traditional food. I also buy some soap so I can bathe and stay clean.

We’ve also used some of the money to repair our home and to buy seeds and tools for our crops.

People with a disability

Two women looking at plants in a field in Zimbabwe
Francesca Gwara (above left) and her aunt, also Francesca Gwara (above right), looking at plants in their food garden

Francesca helps her aunt access her mobile ‘wallet’ by using her SIM card in her own phone. She says:

“My aunt and her son are disabled. If it wasn’t for the cash transfers they would have to go to the mission and get food.

Now they can look after their own nutrition. They have also used some of the cash to repair their home.

The shopkeeper

Clara Makasi outside her shop in Zimbabwe
Clara Makasi outside her shop, called 'Mr and Mrs Makasi: General Store'

“Before the cash transfer project started, I would buy a case of sugar and it would sit in my store for a month but now goods move faster because people have money to buy.”

The businesswoman

Dorothy Shumba and her employee Fungai Hove in Zimbabwe
Dorothy Shumba (above right) with one of her employees, Fungai Hove

“I’m a cash agent. When people receive cash, they come to me to ‘cash out.’

I started my business with one booth. Now I have four and employ three people. And I have enough money to educate my children.

#ThankUK for aid

Two women shaking hands in Zimbabwe
Susan Zidyauswa (right) shakes hands with CARE's Patricia Mucheche

Susan Zidyauswa (above right) with Patricia Mucheche (above left), CARE’s Accountability Officer for the cash transfer project. As Susan says:

The cash transfer project helps us in so many ways.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.