Developing countries like Zimbabwe need to start thinking about sustainability, by using its resource base to fund various developmental programmes that will cater to the needs of people, a US diplomat has said.
This was said by United States Embassy Charge d’ Affairs (CDA) Thomas Hastings who is in Bulawayo touring several US-supported initiatives in the city, during a briefing with local implementation partners at Zimbabwe Health Interventions (ZHI) offices, Tuesday.
Hastings visited programmes supported through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which included the PEPFAR-supported Determined, Resilient, Empowered AIDS-Free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) – Re-ignite, Innovate, Sustain, Empower (RISE) Programme and The Pathways Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Programme.
The CDA noted that sustainability was vital as it helped communities meet their needs and that of future generations, while efficiently contributing to the achievement of sustainable development.
“The long term solution should not be that foreign countries like my own, supporting all this work,” Hastings said, noting that should one come back and visit Zimbabwe after 10 or 20 years, the country would be able to support itself and the various programmes that support vulnerable communities.
“I hope we are not doing support for orphans and vulnerable children anymore, not because there won’t be any orphans and vulnerable children, there will be, but because there doesn’t necessarily have to be a foreign country who is supporting them,” he said.
Hastings hoped that Zimbabwe would become self-sustainable by leveraging on its rich resource base.
“I hope we are moving to a point where Zimbabwe from its own resources, this is naturally not a poor country, is picking up the work and carrying it forward,” said the US diplomat.
“I’m not saying we are leaving as a donor tomorrow or next year but I’m saying we all need to be thinking about that because ultimately sustainable solutions should be the country caring for its own people. So we are happy to be a part of it now but at the same time need to be thinking about sustainability for the future.”
In response, Dominica Mringi from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development concurred saying the ministry had several initiatives to build sustainability in communities.
Mringi added the ministry also had a Women’s Development Fund, strictly for women to sustain their businesses as groups.
The ministry official noted there was the Zimbabwe MicroFinance Fund where anyone can apply for an asset loan.
“People are given assets like JOJO tanks for those who are starting their peri-urban gardens and other projects. We have under this a leather cluster, which was a SME project from the ministry. Then we also have the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Corporation (SMEDCO) fund that is applied for by people who have collateral,” Mringi said.
“These are people who have grown and can sustain their own businesses. SMEDCO funding ranges depending on the project because we offer funds from RTGS100 for a vendor selling tomatoes to a million RTGS so we are looking up and forward. Moving with DREAMS we take over to sustain the programmes that have been laid on the ground.”