ABSTRACT was mainly centred on the social livelihoods

This study evaluated the impact of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) projects on the socio-economic development of rural communities in Zimbabwe. This evaluation was accomplished through the use of a mixed approach methodology. Both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection were employed to meet the objectives of the study and a purposive sampling method was used to select respondents by the researcher. The respondents were purposively selected by the researcher judging they would provide the relevant data and minimise the compromise of the quality of the research results. Methods of data collection included interviews and questionnaires which were conducted with ten community members, ten local leaders, five heads of government departments and five NGOs. The researcher also used observations as a method for collecting data during the survey. The researcher used a qualitative research design to a greater extent since the research was mainly centred on the social livelihoods of people and the development aspect which is unquantifiable due to its varied phenomena. A case study was cited in an attempt to get a deeper understanding of the subject being investigated during the research. The study was carried out in Matobo district which has a homogeneous population of the Ndebele and Karanga people which is a happy hunting ground for many NGOs due to its geographic location with poor soils for industrial agriculture, drought prone with frequent hunger risks calling for aid relief. The findings revealed that NGOs use the top bottom approach in the planning and development of projects for the poor communities with little involvement of the Rural District Council and the community during the inception meetings and signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs). The study concluded that the donor community plays a kinetic role in universalizing development for rural communities. Therefore recommendations have been put for NGOs to embrace an endogenous approach to fighting for the transformation of rural livelihoods.

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This project is a study meant to establish whether Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are pursuing their interests or satisfying the needs of the communities given the prevailing socio-economic and political environment in Zimbabwe. Matabeleland South province is an area that is marginalised socially as well as economically. In the past years citizens in the province are excluded in meaningfully development programmes that benefit them. There is no stable source of income and no reliable access to food for the majority of the people in the Province as the area falls under ecological region IV and V and hence often experiences extreme weather phenomena like droughts/floods leading to recurrent food shortages. The Zimbabwe Poverty Atlas (2015) rates the province as the fourth poorest province in the country. The health and educational services in the province are of low standard and are sometimes not accessible to the poorer sections of the society. The productive capacity of the Province has also been affected by massive youth migration into neighbouring countries of South Africa and Botswana creating exposure to HIV and AIDS, hence paving way for many NGOs to operate in the Province.
Socially, in the absence of transitional justice mechanisms to deal with the massacres of the 1980’s there are still underlying currents of perceived and real marginalisation hampering social cohesion between citizens in the province and the broader populace. The contestations of political power over the last decade have further polarised communities along partisan lines at community level as citizens are labelled either as being in the mainstream the ruling party or as any of the opposition formations limiting the opportunities for collective community action. The area of study Emadwaleni ward 14 of Matobo District is located in Matobo District along Kezi-Maphisa highway road. Therefore this chapter will cover the background of the study area.

Matobo district is one of the biggest districts in Matabeleland South province with a population of ninety three thousand nine hundred and forty people (93 940) according to the Zimbabwe Census conducted in 2012. The district stretches from Matobo Research Station and it shares the boundary with Mangwe District on the South and Gwanda on the Eastern side. The population of the said district, basically as a source of livelihoods, depends on livestock rearing and mining. Migration also plays a key role in the district and this is simply because most young men and women are seen crossing to the Republic of South Africa and Botswana in search of greener pastures. In addition, Matobo district is situated within a hot, dry area that is subject to periodic droughts and acute water challenges. Matobo district is home to six (6) traditional chiefs namely Chief Bidi, Fuyana, Bakhwayi, Masuku, Malaba and Nyangazonke. The ward under study is within the jurisdiction of Chief Nyangazonke and electorally it is run by a female Councillor Ms Sinikwe Moyo. The area has a clinic, Kezi Rural Clinic, two (2) secondary schools, three (3) primary schools, two (2) dip tanks namely Sinki and Nzula, and above all it has five (5) villages namely Ndiweni, Mhlasi, Malindi, Tshogwana and Mankala. The area hosts a business center, Kezi business centre which is situated along the Maphisa- Bulawayo road. Matobo as a district is also characterized by formal and informal trading and so is ward fourteen (14).
The district has a history of conflict around the liberation struggle, and history of hunger as it is located within region 5 of the ecological climatic conditions of Zimbabwe. Ndlovu (2010) postulates that it is the same district which fell the victims to politically motivated violence in the 2008 elections. This has waved to the inflow of NGOs interventions with intentions to improve lives of the people of Matobo district both socially and economically. Furthermore, the chosen study site has peace and reconciliation projects, water and sanitation projects, humanitarian aid amongst other projects being implemented in the ward, henceforth this dissertation will seek to latch onto the efforts to appraise the contributions and impacts that the project is making towards socio-economic development of the rural people.

Non-Government Organizations have significant financial, technical and logistical power in their mission to save lives and reduce poverty. (Makoba, 2002) cites that in distinction, the local people have no formal control and have little influence over relief and development agencies, making it problematic for them to make their own preferences of development projects. NGOs prioritize social service delivery more than infrastructural development projects in a bid to serve the poor communities which has limited achievements in developing poor communities.
NGOs such as ORAP and World Vision have been operating in this ward since the country got independent. Its projects have complimented the government efforts to develop the marginal rural areas. The major projects that have been done during the post-independence period encompassed water and sanitation and food relief which are the major projects which are pulling NGOs into Matobo because of the climatic disadvantage of the district. Some NGOs have been into the education sector, conflict transformation and promoting human rights practice in an effort to improve the level of civilization amongst the people of the Matobo district.
Though NGOs have and are still implementing projects in the district, the rate at which they are infiltrating Matobo District with little sustainable development is questionable to whether they are doing what they do to the best interest of their donors or for the interest of the people. This has been echoed by Moyo (2009) who postulate that policy makers and development agency continue to pursue aid based model to development even when aid is apparently not working. Siamonga (2016) described NGOs to be exploiting vulnerable communities. Taking into consideration the status of the wards in Matobo district and the presence of NGOs can be described as hunting expeditions for their sustainability to attract more aid from donors.

The state of poverty in Matobo district is rife and the (ZimVAC) 2017 Rural Livelihoods Assessment Survey recorded that highest dependency ratio was recorded in Matabeleland South at 1.8 and in the report Matabeleland South, are projected to have the second highest proportion at 16% of food insecure households during peak hunger period. Assessment Report 2014 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC), also recorded high percentages of people living in extreme poverty being the one who resides in rural areas. This report provoked interest in a number of projects and programs being implemented and financed by various donors to improve livelihoods conditions for the rural communities, Matobo district included. Moyo (2009) wrote that we live in a culture of aid yet the uncertainty impact of this aid generates various questions on why NGOs projects are not transforming the poor communities. NGO projects continue to be disparaged for being less effective in poverty alleviation globally and on national or local scale. Muponde (2014) wrote that NGOs implements the projects on rural communities without consulting the locals on what is desirable in the district. This has developed enthusiasm to assess the contributions made by the people in planning and implementation of projects by NGOs in Matobo district.
(1) To explore the nature of development projects being implemented by NGOs in Matobo District.
(2) To examine the socio-economic development of NGOs’ projects on the intended beneficiaries.
3) To analyse the challenges faced by NGOs in implementing their projects in Matobo district.
(4) To scrutinize the sustainability of the NGOs’ projects in Matobo rural district.
(5) To proffer recommendations on strengthening the participation of rural people in the planning and development of projects for transforming rural communities in Zimbabwe.
(1) What is the nature of development projects being implemented by NGOs in Matobo district?
(2) What are the socio-economic development benefits of NGO projects on the intended beneficiaries?
(3) What are the challenges being faced by NGOs in implementing their projects in Matobo district?
(4) How sustainable are the NGOs’ projects in Matobo District?
(5) How can the participation of NGOS in Matobo district be strengthened?
Matobo district is being hampered by poverty in spite of the influx of NGOs which have dominated the district’s development activities and there is least tangible transformation for the communities (Chuma, 2011). If the development agencies and policy makers take cognisance of the presence of this study and embark on an endogenous approach to tackling poverty in Matobo district. The research is anticipated to be a useful tool for Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and used in the academic community for understanding the operations of the civil society. According to Masson (2002) in Munsaka (2012), researchers should consider resources and practical concerns about what is possible when choosing a research site, hence this study is justified by the fact that it has been conducted in a district of the author’s origin where the researcher shares the same culture, tradition and language with the native people. The district also offered advantages of minimising research challenges of isolation and increased trust of research gatekeepers and participants in the district.
Figure 1: Map showing a case study area

Source: Matobo Rural District Council

Limitations are best described as the matters and occurrences that arise in a study which are beyond a researcher’s control. This study was confined to only one ward (Emadwaleni) out of the 25 administrative wards in the district of Matobo. However, NGO representatives and other district stakeholders were involved in the study as respondents to ensure a maximum representation in order to counter this aspect. Some NGOs could not allow the researcher access into their programmes citing bureaucratic leadership as an inhibiting factor which would take long for the researcher to get such permission to carry out the study with them. The effect of the upcoming 2018 elections and shift of power (new president) is driving the community members to misinterpret the socio-economic activities. The study was further challenged by limited financial supplies as it was academic and the student had to use opportunities of NGOs vehicles during their field work.


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