What’s Empowering People All About?

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | OpEd

Empowering people to be the drivers of their own destiny instead of being perennially dependent should be the focus of development work in Zimbabwe.

Unfortunately, projects that are implemented in communities do not blend in well with the ecosystem and the people.

There is usually a disconnect between development priorities and the reality on the ground. Due to tge professionalisation of development work, there’s a dearth of passion and dedication to see programmes change people’s lives and livelihoods.

Oftentimes, development workers are content with drafting reports and making recommendations that do not translate to anything siginificant on the ground.

On the other hand, it appears targeted beneficiaries have accumulated knowledge on how to play the development game.

Like pawns in a chess game, they acquiese to every whim of the so-called development workers even if they largely don’t believe in programmes. 

So, over to you, what do you think empowering people is all about?

GlobalPOWER Women Network Africa Conference Opens in Harare

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwashs | iZiviso Global Editor At Large

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Women parliamentarians, leading African women entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, and development partners from Africa are meeting in Harare over the next two days for the inauguration and launch of the GlobalPOWER Women Network Africa.

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The conference, being attended by approximately 300 participants, is aimed at providing a strategic political platform to accelerate game changing approaches to HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health and rights responses for women and girls. The idea to create an Africa-specific GlobalPOWER Women Network stemmed fom a September 2010 meeting in Washington DC that saw prominent female decision makers come together alongside their US peers to discuss how to accelerate the implementation of the UNAIDS Agenda for Women and Girls.

Participants at the conference are expected to address the key issues affecting girls and women in Africa including eliminating new HIV infections among children, keeping mothers alive and maternal and child health. The meeting will result in the “Harare Call to Action” to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality through HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights responses.

President of the GlobalPOWER Women Network Africa and Zimbabwe Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe said that women must take an active role in ensuring their empowerment.

“To achieve the vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths, it is critical to recognise women and girls as key agents in making this vision a reality – society has to invest in the health of women and girls,” Khupe said.

Addressing the conference, Zimbabwe President Robert Gabrial Mugabe said the launch of the network will take the issue of women’s emancipation and empowerment a step further.

Äfter the launch, the real work will begin and call for the same passion, unity of purpose and consistency in pursuing the goals which have characterized this Women’s Network thus far. Of particular note will be the challenge of giving unstinting support to women candidates of every hue and cry; of varying professional qualifications, driven by different talents and capabilities to realise their potential in the collaborative work of Global Power Women Network, the Africa Union and UNAIDS,”said Mugabe.

In Africa, women and girls carry a disproportionate burden of the HIV epidemic – they constitute 59 percent of all people living with the disease. To make matters worse, gender inequality compounded by gender-based vioence, increase women and girl’s risk of HIV infection.

Ëmpowering women and girls to protect themselves against HIV infection and gender-based violence is a non-negotiable in the AIDS response,”said UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibe.

Zimbabwe Operators to Share Rural Network Infrastructure

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – IN a development that will potentially boost Zimbabwe’s rural mobile telephony, the telecommunications regulatory authority, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, recently announced that it is installing shared telecommunications infrastructure in the country’s rural areas.

Among the players in the telecommunications sector, infrastructure is highly regarded as a competitive advantage hence the reluctance to open up platforms.

“The duplication of infrastructure is reversing the aggressive expansion mood that investors are approaching the telecommunications sector with,” said Taonaziso Chowa, an investment analyst with Old Mutual Zimbabwe’s investment research division.

The reluctance of Zimbabwe’s mobile operators to share infrastructure has been widely reported as a shortcoming which has resulted in the duplication of infrastructure such as towers for base stations, and missing the opportunity to channel resources into other areas. It has been cited as one of the limiting factors of Zimbabwe’s telecommunications industry’s growth potential.

Moreover, mobile telecommunication operators have traditionally targeted urban areas, but it is the demand from rural and low-income areas that is likely to exceed all expectations. As urban markets become saturated, the next generation of mobile phone users will increasingly be rural based. Rural areas, where a majority of Zimbabweans live, are particularly in need of better mobile and broadband service.

According to POTRAZ, the programme is expected to improve coverage of mobile phone networks through the installation of towers, power back-ups and equipment rooms. Installation of the infrastructure will be financed by a total of US$20 million dollars from the Universal Service Fund (USF).

According to the state owned weekly newspaper, Sunday Mail, the USF was established under Section 10 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act. Essentially, licensed telephone operators and other ICT providers contribute 2 percent of their gross income to the USF which is used to finance provision of services in remote areas.

“We are already installing the passive infrastructure in one district in all the eight provinces and work should be completed before year end,” the Sunday Mail quoted Engineer Charles Sibanda, POTRAZ director.

Sibanda added that the three mobile phone operators in the country and ICT service providers would share the infrastructure to install transmitters for providing their services.

According to previous media reports, POTRAZ is planning to prohibit the number of towers that each operator can erect in a given area.

“This infrastructural development will certainly ensure that our rural areas that are often ignore by the big telecommunications players in the country will now be better connected. Its very important for the future development of our country, and is a welcome development,” said Bethel Goka, an IT specialist.

The infrastructure sharing arrangement will allow the telecommunication operators to increase their coverage by utilizing the proposed base stations to reach new subscribers while concentrating on value added services.

Made in Zimbabwe With Mediocrity

WHEN a friend suggested that I should go and check out the home furniture industry located in the teeming high density suburb of Glen View 3, approximately eight kilometers out of the city centre, little did I know I was in for a quick lesson on Zimbabwean mediocrity at its most basic level.

First things first: I firmly support local entrepreneurship but only if it adheres to high levels of excellence at every step of execution. Suffice to state that my story began after I complained that the prices of furniture in the city centre were simply too exorbitant for the quality of the items on offer. Continue reading

Fresh Air of Each New Day

Making prompt amends is the fresh air of each new day. ~ Sandra Little

Today brings us a new hill to climb and a new view from the top. Taking time to reflect about our daily journeys is a challenging adventure in self-discovery. Looking down, we see our past trials and difficulties as lessons to learn from. Letting go of old baggage as we end our day will give us a bright window to open onto tomorrow.

Completing a daily inventory creates a good foundation for living peacefully. Honestly acknowledging the things we have done or said to hurt ourselves or others enables us to say, “I’m sorry” and to begin each day with a clean slate and a peaceful heart. As we empty ourselves of regret by making amends to ourselves and others, we make room for the love and comfort of our Higher Power.

Today help me take inventory and make amends where I need to.

Body, Mind, and Spirit. Copyright 1990 by Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved.

The Morality of Water

waterandsanitationPoverty, inequality and unequal power relationships are the main cause of the current global water and sanitation crisis, according to a paper titled “The human right to water and sanitation: benefits and limitations” which is contained in a UN report: The Right to Water – Current Situation and Future Challenges.

Despite the gravity of the situation, water and sanitation rarely make the headlines in the news media. The financial and human cost of the crisis is humongous.

“The global damage caused by diseases and productivity losses related to unclean water and poor sanitation is estimated at a staggering US 170 billion dollars per year with developing countries’ economies bearing the brunt of this burden. Sub-Saharan Africa alone loses 5 % of GDP or US 28,4 billion per year, a figure that exceeded total aid flow and debt relief into the region in 2003,” states the report.

Such a hemorrhage is clearly unacceptable, and for Sub-Saharan Africa it is clear that lack of access to water and sanitation is not only about health and development; it is an economic imperative. Continue reading

Zimbabwe Give-Me-A-Book Campaign

Dear comrades and friends – countrymen and countrywomen – lend me your ears for a minute; for we surely can do something together to help the children of our country have a chance to own a book to read. There are many books that lie like dead and silent tombs in our houses that, if resurrected, could help to shape a vibrant reading culture in our beloved village of Zimbabwe. We need to dig up such books from our homes and give them away to those that do not have access to books like the little orphaned and vulnerable children in many parts of our land. Every child in Zimbabwe must be given an opportunity to own a book, and the solution lies at our doorstep. Access to books is every child’s right and a long-term investment for the future.

Having said that, let me take this opportunity to introduce the Zimbabwe Give-Me-A Book Campaign. The Zimbabwe Give-Me-A-Book Campaign is nationwide effort with a single mission: to give children the opportunity to read and own books. The primary goal is to collect and distribute books to children who, for socio-economic reasons, have little or no access to books. Our objective is to promote literacy, life-long learning and understanding by distributing donated books and other forms of educational media to orphaned and disadvantaged children. Continue reading