Under the Gender Challenge Initiative, Family AIDS Caring Trust was supported by Research Triangle International to evaluate the impact of its livelihoods programs on the economic status of women in households affected by HIV and AIDS in four wards of Chipinge and Buhera Districts of Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe. The purpose of the study was mainly to evaluate the impact of FACT livelihoods programs on the economic status of women in households affected by HIV and AIDS in four wards of Chipinge and Buhera Districts of Manicaland Province with a view to improve FACT programming efforts towards comprehensive women economic empowerment. The study was conducted in Buhera district’s wards 17 (Chimbudzi) and 19 (Bangure) and Chipinge district’s wards 9 (Paidamoyo) and 14 (Tamandai).
A descriptive qualitative study design that involved the collection of targeted information from secondary sources like archived FACT reports and assessments; and through structured interviews with direct beneficiaries was adopted. Qualitative data was collected through in-depth interviews, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. A total of 85 in-depth interviews were conducted with direct women beneficiaries of the livelihoods projects in the two districts. Ten key informant interviews were also done with traditional, political, religious, education and health leaders in the two districts. A total of four Focus Group Discussions were done with support groups of people living HIV.
The results of the impact evaluation showed that FACT has shown remarkable progress in terms of livelihoods programming. One such success in Buhera district has been attributed to involvement of the church in leading the livelihoods projects. On another note, FACT managed to select marginalized groups of people living with HIV and supported them with livelihoods programs. Of special mention is the semi-intensive goat production project in Chipinge (ward 9) which is doing very well. There has also been a notable impact in terms of income, asset base, health and educational needs for households supported. Gender issues also arose especially during community dialogues and data validation processes conducted.
Some five critical recommendations given were as follows:
- Using the church as a conduit through which livelihoods activities can be implemented is a good practice as noted by the continuity of such projects in Buhera district.
- There is need for strong linkages with government ministries so that they provide technical assistance on areas FACT has limited expertise.
- Consider supporting women communities with livelihoods programs that give quick returns like goat production and shun away from livelihoods programs that have long term benefits like the heifer project in Buhera.
- There is need for meaningful involvement of women – do a needs assessment first, that is, use actor-oriented approach. Make women identify their actual needs.
- Tashinga Goat Project members in Chipinge District walk close to 3 kilometres to get water for their goats, making women face multiple hard times considering that they also have other household duties to accomplish at home – hence the need to support them with perennial sources of water.
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