Abantu bamaNGO bahlezi bekhala bethu abalandleko ezaneleyo zokusinikeza inhlelo ezidinga inswelo zethu njemgabantu besigabeni (these NGOs always tell us that they don’t have sufficient funds to do the projects which we desire in our community). The result from this discussion was that most of the projects are generated by the donor community due to their specifications and demands from the NGOs in disbursing the aid funds to the rural communities. The only thing done by NGOs is to ensure that the projects are in line with the district’s strategic plan where the ideas of the people are falsely represented by the district development board. Scoones (2015) cements this by citing that institutions and organizations are critical to understanding how some people gain access to resources and livelihoods while others are excluded. Therefore one community member had to say that ‘implementing development without our knowledge and support is meaningless’ and this can lead to a fatal failure of the project although some may succeed to a limited timeframe as we had witness many projects and NGOs collapses.
The top down approach is prominent when it comes to the determination of the projects that are assumed to be at the heart of the community’s problems and can reduce the wailing of the people. This can seriously frustrate community participation efforts as have been underlined by Rahman (1983). A young man from Ndiweni village response was that ‘thina siyavuma kuphela kulokhu osekhona noba akulanto esingayenza’ (we just agree to the projects brought to us as there is nothing we can do). When asked who brings the projects to them, most responded response was that the NGOs who go through the RDC and the local leadership such as the councillor, village heads and sometimes the chiefs. Those in the leadership structures agreed with this notion as a local leader of the area said that, “amaNGO ayasitshela ngenhlelot abafuna ukuzowenza” (NGOs tell us what project they want to implement). This has made community based decision a dilemma in Matobo district.
4.5 SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT OF NGOS’ PROJECTS IN RURAL MATOBO
Burnell and Randal (2008: 173) assert that where the state is incapable, NGOs help people survive and maintain an appearance of normal life under very difficult conditions. NGOs projects have brought a great positive change in the community of Emadwaleni. These changes have improved the standard of living for the people, for example one women acknowledged that “bayasakhela izambuzi” (they have built toilets for us) of which a majority of them cannot afford to acquire in their live due to the inadequate resources as they have unavailable income sources.
Development has been attained in the field of education and the pass rate has arisen for the schools in the ward contributing to high outcomes in the final examinations both at primary and secondary education. A good example is illustrated by Christian Care’s block grant programme under the child protection project whereby they have sponsored schools with learning materials, building materials and furniture. Most schools in Matobo fail to acquire governmental grants to upgrade or construct the classrooms as most of the schools have poor infrastructure and resources which include the staff, furniture, stationery and other learning materials. The picture below shows the state and nature of the classroom in one of the schools in the ward and the few resources available was provided by the NGOs. Little attention has been offered by the government to these rural schools as can be illustrated by the shanty learning environment below. One of the community member cited that dropout of children from the school maybe slightly attributed to the shanty environment that they learn in. However of the teacher interviewed, she responded that during winter absenteeism not only of pupils and also of teachers have become common in the school which is mainly attributed to the dilapidated infrastructure at the school.
In the agricultural sector, NGOs have fought hard to align their projects to the ZimAsset policy of Zimbabwe. NGOs are in the forefront of providing the communal farmers with inputs such as hybrid seeds, providing market linkages which has changed the farmers to small scale commercial farming to improve their incomes and reduce the effects of poverty. Matobo is region with poor soils and bad rainfall pattern and in such, people resort livestock production of which NGOs has done great in this sector by building dip tanks and sale pan for the rural people.
Much has also been done in promoting nutrition for the rural communities through the promotion of gardens and building weir dams for the people to get water for the small gardens. A good example is Weir dam which was rehabilitated by Christian Care and has enabled many families to survive by it through the production of vegetables and fruits for vending. Responded on the questionnaire cited that ORAP and Christian Care had helped in rehabilitating their 2 dams Nhlabano and Gwizi dam last year after the excessive rainfall which left the dams at a bad state.
However, NGOs have turned a blind eye on the health sector for the community of Emadwaleni. Some villages which are located far from the district centre depend on the district clinic (Kezi Clinic) which is kilometres away and with meagre resources due to unemployment, the people cannot afford the health services such as paying for ambulances and buying medication drugs as one native said that, silohlupho kwezempilakahle (we have a problem of a clinic). This has subjugated the community to the diseases. Due to the water table which is out of reach, the community still suffer a lack of water supply for both domestic and livestock.
The social life for the people has greatly changed taking into consideration the rates of child abuse, education of a girl child and the participation of women in the social life aspect. The child protection project has impacted the rights of children in the community of Emadwaleni as more children are going to school than before. A school child had this to say during a discussion, akuselabandlululo khathesi phakathi kokufundiswa kwamankazana labafana (we attend school in the same manner as boys). This was said so because in the past educating a girl child was viewed as a bad thing and school was believed to be a platform where promiscuity can be learnt. However the intervention of NGOs through advocacy and lobbying for policy changes has promoted the upholding of the children’s rights in the rural communities.
Furthermore community leaders interviewed on the socio-economic development for the beneficiaries responded that community based facilitators that have been selected by NGOs have increased knowledge on advocacy, lobbying, gender equality and mainstreaming, monitoring and evaluation, rural district structure, and community cohesion. Some further articulated that community based facilitators also have increased knowledge on how to resuscitate collapsed projects and infrastructure. They have also been increased knowledge on how to establish ward clubs that will enable communities to sustain development projects.