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Trócaire’s work in Zimbabwe aims to achieve stronger human rights protections, the development of sustainable and resilient livelihoods and women’s empowerment.

Mrs Sitabile and family members

Mrs Sitabile (meaning 'happiness') and her family benefited from support from Trócaire sister organisation Caritas during the drought in 2016. Photo: Isabel Corthier/Caritas

Key Facts

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Trócaire has been working in Zimbabwe since it delivered humanitarian assistance there in the early 1970s

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Our programmes reached 178,000 people directly last year

Health & other benefits


Trócaire's work builds resilient livehoods and empowers people to know their rights

Trócaire’s Work in Zimbabwe

Trócaire works to transform the lives of poor and marginalised women and men. We support people who do not have secure access to food or basic needs, as well as people who are discriminated against and vulnerable to exploitation.

We work on supporting resilient and sustainable livelihoods, humanitarian preparedness and response, governance and human rights, and women’s empowerment.  

Trocaire’s work is focused primarily in the southern drought-affected areas of Matebeleland South and Masvingo, and in the Eastern Districts of Mutasa and Mutare. 

We also support work at a national level to complement our local level work and to support policy change.

Our Programmes

1. Civil Society Strengthening

The programme works with traditional leaders, community groups and human rights monitors to promote education and awareness of civil, social and economic rights amongst women and men.

It supports collective action to challenge human rights violations and hold leaders to account.

We further support human rights defenders (HRDs) in distress, particularly female HRDs, and supports access to justice for women and men through the provision of legal aid and referral support.

Alongside our partners we engage in policy and law reform processes with a particular focus on the alignment of the laws to the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Trócaire’s strong relationships within the country have allowed us to continue with our human rights work despite the fragile political situation.

2. Women’s Empowerment

This programme aims to promote and protect human rights in Zimbabwe, especially for women and girls affected by gender based violence (GBV) and HIV and AIDS.

We work to support the realisation of women’s rights through policy and reform processes.

We seek to transform negative social, cultural and traditional norms that perpetuate gender based violence (GBV); assisting women, particularly survivors of GBV, to access services and care and have a secure source of income.

We also support groundbreaking work on combatting HIV-related self-stigma (using the Byron Katie methodology known as ‘The Work’).

Zimbabwe is the first developing country this methodology is rolled out in.

3. Sustainable and Resilient Livelihoods, integrated with Humanitarian Preparedness and Response

Trócaire’s livelihoods programme supports communities in Southern Zimbabwe to withstand climate shocks, and to increase and diversify household food production and income.

These initiatives specifically tackle the chronic water, food and income shortages faced by households increasingly affected by climate change.

We have a particular focus on women’s participation and economic empowerment.

We work with partners to do this by improving access, use and management of water supplies, as well as promoting an ‘agro-ecological’ approach to agriculture and supporting diverse crop and livestock activities.

We also integrate humanitarian preparedness and response into our programmes as necessary, and organise for national level advocacy on critical issues such as climate change.

Small scale farmers are at the centre of decision making, respecting their right to control productive land, water, forests and wetlands and indigenous plants and animals.

Our Partners in Zimbabwe

Trócaire works with the following local partner organisations to implement its programmes in Zimbabwe:

  • CARITAS Bulawayo

  • CARITAS Masvingo

  • CARITAS Zimbabwe

  • Carmelite Fathers Mutare

  • Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Masvingo

  • Connect: Zimbabwe Institute of Systemic Therapy

  • Dabane Trust

  • Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme

  • Emthonjeni Women’s Forum

  • Environment Africa

  • Fambidzanai

  • Masakhaneni Projects Trust 

  • Musasa 

  • Practical Action – Southern Africa

  • Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association

  • Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

  • Zimbabwe National Network of People Living Positively

  • Zimbabwe Peace Project

  • Zimbabwe Project Trust

Updates from Zimbabwe

Country Context

Zimbabwe has experienced huge political, economic and social turmoil since its independence in 1980.

This has resulted in devastating impacts on poor and marginalised people, particularly women and those living with disabilities. 

Currently, over 62% of the population live below the national poverty line, and unemployment currently stands at between 80- 90%. 

Much of the economy is now ‘informal’, agricultural sector in Zimbabwe provides livelihoods for about 70% of the population and accounts for 23% of formal employment.

Agriculture contributes to 15-20% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  However, climate change has increased the frequency and intensity droughts and floods.  2016 saw the worst drought in over 25 years leading to food shortages for more than 4.1 million people, or over a third of the population.

Women suffer disproportionately from the effects of poverty. Violence against women, in all its forms, continues to be recorded at extremely high levels. 

Zimbabwe also has one of the highest HIV rates in the world. Approximately 14% of the population are living with HIV and women still represent the largest proportion of the population affected. There are 29,000 AIDS-related deaths annually.  

In Zimbabwe violations of human rights remain pervasive. 

While a new Constitution was introduced in 2013 which contains very progressive provisions in line with international human rights commitments, progress on the implementation of these has been very slow. 

Citizens for the most part remain unaware of their civic, economic and social rights and do not engage in processes that affect them. 

There are ongoing restrictions on political opposition, civil society and the media. 

Elections since the late 1980s have been marred by violence. 

Our Funders in Zimbabwe

Trócaire's current programmes in Zimbabwe are supported by Irish Aid.