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Sida's work in Zimbabwe

Since the turn of the millennium, more and more citizens in Zimbabwe are struggling to make a living and the situation regarding human rights and democracy has deteriorated. Sida aims to strengthen democratic development and respect for human rights, reduce climate impact and improve access to healthcare and sustainable livelihoods.

Sida’s support in Zimbabwe 2021

Total development assistance 401937000 SEK, Development cooperation 381937000 SEK, Humanitarian assistance 20000000 SEK.

Progress has been made


of the population can read,¹ which is more than in many other countries in the region. A majority of the children attend school.²

Steps towards democratization

The government has taken cautious steps towards following democratic standards. International election observers were invited to monitor the elections in 2018.

Equal rights enshrined in consitution

Although Zimbabwean society is far from gender-equal, an important step was taken when it enshrined equal rights for women and men in its 2013 Constitution.3

Challenges remain


of the population is estimated to live below the poverty line (1,90 USD per day) according to World bank data, and poverty is increasing.

Dire situation for human rights

In terms of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, the situation in the country is dire. The judicial systems function poorly and political opposition is oppressed.

Food shortage due to drought and economic collapse

In recent years, the country has been hit hard by droughts and economic collapse, leading to a humanitarian situation in which a large part of the population faces food shortages.4

Sida’s development cooperation in Zimbabwe

Located in southern Africa, Zimbabwe has no coastline and is slightly smaller than Sweden. Nearly four out of ten of the country’s inhabitants live below the poverty line of 1,90 USD per day.5 The majority of the population lives in rural areas.6

Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980. Robert Mugabe took office as president and was in power for 37 years. When relinquishing power in 2017 he left behind a mismanaged state apparatus and growing economic and humanitarian problems.

For a few years after the turn of the millennium, Zimbabwe was hit hard by an AIDS epidemic. Still almost 13 percent live with HIV.7

Democracy, human rights and the rule of law

Zimbabwe’s democratic development is going in the wrong direction, and respect for human rights is limited. The political and economic decline of recent years has affected the judicial system, which has become more politically dependent and corrupt. There is a high risk of heightened political unrest, worsening economic downturn and increased poverty.

More women and young people vote

Despite positive statements from the president regarding free and independent elections, democratic space is limited. Sweden’s support for the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Youth Empowerment Transformation Trust contributed to more people than ever voting in the 2018 elections.8

The Youth Empowerment Transformation Trust website

Education on democracy and human rights

The shrinking democratic space is affecting many civil society organisations and human rights activists. Through the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Sida is contributing to provide education on democracy and human rights to civil society actors, academics and civil servants from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, the Gender Commission, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services och the country’s justice department.

About the work in Zimbabwe at the Raul Wallenberg Institute website

Reducing stigma against LGBTQ people

LGBTQI people face discrimination in Zimbabwe. Thanks to the support for the Galz organisation, which works to reduce stigma, Sida has noted a weak but positive change in the attitude of the public and the state towards LGBTQI people. 

The GALZ website

Equal health

Both infant mortality and maternal mortality remain relatively high in Zimbabwe. This is largely a consequence of inadequate care in connection with childbirth, as well as impediments that prevent care from reaching the rural population.

Improving access to healthcare

Pregnant women often lack access to necessary care in Zimbabwe. Through support for the Health Development Fund provided via UNICEF, Sida has contributed to the continued functioning of the country’s health care system despite an increasingly strained situation.

About the Health Development Fund at the UNICEF website

Care for survivors of gender-based violence

Gender-based violence is widespread and on the rise. It is estimated that 37 percent of Zimbabwean women have been exposed to such violence.9 Through support to UNFPA and UNICEF, Sida helps to ensure that survivors receive care, guidance, counselling, as well as housing and legal aid.

About the work in Zimbabwe at the UNFPA website

Information about contraception

Young women in Zimbabwe have limited access to support regarding reproductive health and reproductive rights issues. Sida supports several organisations that provide information and contraception (primarily to adolescents and young adults). One example is the Let’s Talk campaign, aiming to reduce stigma and promote conversation about menstruation.

About Let’s Talk at the Young People Today website

Environment, climate, energy and sustainable livelihoods

Efforts to get more people to join the labour force and secure their livelihoods are hampered by the deteriorating economic situation. Climate change, erosion and poor soil quality also make agriculture less productive in many parts of the country. The majority lack access to electricity.10

Making agricultural sector more productive

Poverty in Zimbabwe is increasing, and many families don’t get enough food. Through a partnership with the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund, (implemented by UNDP), Sida is contributing to make agriculture more productive so that more people can get jobs and access to nutritious food.

About the work in Zimbabwe at the UNDP website

Reducing emissions from businesses

There is a great need for renewable and environmentally sustainable energy in Zimbabwe. Through a collaboration with Green InnovationsHub and GreenEnterprize, Sida contributes to improved opportunities for small and medium enterprises to reduce their emissions and become more cost-effective.

The Green Enterprize website

Renewable energy solutions

Most of rural households in Zimbabwe lack access to electricity. Renewable Energy and Climate Change Technology is a programme implemented in collaboration with Power Africa and aims to develop renewable energy solutions. Results in other countries in the region have been positive, but the project was only recently launched in Zimbabwe.

Updated: September 6, 2021