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Ireland’s development programme in Zimbabwe is focused on supporting organisations working at grass roots level to address the needs of the most vulnerable people and communities affected by HIV and AIDS. 

Two participants during the circle gardening workshop measuring the circumference of the circle gardens they want to dig. Photo: Souls Comfort

  • Overview
  • Background
  • Our Work
  • Results


Ireland and Zimbabwe

Ireland’s programme in Zimbabwe is managed by our embassy in Pretoria (South Africa) and we target our support at the most vulnerable people and communities through partnerships with multilateral and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Our programme focuses on improving state and community services to support those people living with HIV (PLHIV), strengthening the national health service and supporting job creation in agri-business.

One of the caregivers receiving a bicycle for community home based care program


After decades of economic growth and flourishing development throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Zimbabwe’s progress took a turn for the worse.  In recent years, the situation has continued to deteriorate, with a crumbling political, social and economic environment.

Chronic poverty, political instability, HIV and Aids, repeated food crises, poor harvests and the demise of formal and informal employment opportunities continue to impact adversely on livelihoods and increase levels of vulnerability.

Zimbabwe has significant, continuing humanitarian and development needs.  Essential services such as health, education, water and sanitation are hugely lacking.  International donor support is predominantly geared towards enhancing local services and is primarily disbursed through NGOs.

The challenge of HIV and AIDS

Zimbabwe continues to be one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa most severely affected by HIV and AIDS. The country’s socio-economic decline was accompanied by a rise in HIV and AIDS prevalence and a marked reduction in the provision of social services needed to lessen the negative impact of the epidemic.

The rise in poverty, inequality and social exclusion that has marked the recent history of Zimbabwe has ensured that those most affected by HIV and AIDS are usually the most vulnerable, i.e., women, children. 

Thanks to prevention programmes and the roll out of treatment, the rate of new infections has decreased and the overall HIV prevalence rate has come down to 14.7% in 2012, from a high of over 26% in 2001.


Our Work

Responding to the needs of people affected by HIV and AIDS

Our main focus is on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people and communities affected by HIV.  We focus, in particular, on those living in rural areas in sixteen districts of Zimbabwe through the Expanded Support Programme.

This includes the delivery of prevention, treatment and care services for those who are affected, including the provision of nutritious foods for those on treatment and also the creation of income generation opportunities.

We channel support through the Zimbabwean AIDS Network (ZAN) and four member organisations who are working at community level to deliver essential services.  

Strengthening the health system

A second priority is rebuilding the health system services, which have been severely impacted in recent years.

Ireland provides support for the Health Transition Fund, which is managed by UNICEF and contributing donors including Norway, Sweden, the UK and the European Commission.

The fund has a particular focus on health system strengthening, maternal and child health, and child nutrition


During 2014, Ireland continued its support for a number of NGOs working to support people living with HIV and AIDS. Projects focussing on nutrition and social protection, education and support for orphaned children were prioritised.

  • A mobile outreach laboratory for testing the viral load of people infected with HIV was funded, allowing many to monitor and improve the treatment of their HIV infection.
  • Support for Zimbabwe’s recovery through the implementation of the Health Transition Fund. Results show improved performance of health facilities, increasing demand for services and removal of user fees at many institutions.

Some of the sugar bean seed which was distributed to the community members as a way of sustainably curb food insecurity in Gwanda district.