Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
Save the Children, an international non-governmental organisation working on children’s issues in Zimbabwe has partnered Agribank to offer loans for small-to-medium-income generating projects to poor communities in Binga and Kariba under an $80 000 revolving fund.
Availed last year, the two-year programme running under the banner Resilience for Nutritional Outcomes (RINO) is aimed at reducing prevalence of stunting by 10 percent from 27 and 22 percent in Binga and Kariba respectively.
Save the Children nutrition officer for Binga Mr Bekezela Ncube said the project targeted to avail loans to about 1 000 households in the selected districts, which in turn should improve livelihoods of an anticipated 10 000 men, women and children.
“Binga is one of the districts with worst levels of malnutrition and one of the reasons for this initiative is really to address issues of poverty, which have a direct bearing on families’ tradition on food consumption,” said Mr Ncube.
He said RINO was meant to financially capacitate poor communities so that they had disposable cash to buy and consume a balanced diet, among other necessities.
Mrs Julia Munkuli from Simatelele in Binga appreciated the loan, saying it gave her a new lease of life.
“I applied for a $500 loan in March this year and started a flea market business at Simatelele business centre,” she said. “The business is rewarding, especially at this time of the year as we approach the Christmas holidays.”
Mrs Munkuli said on a good month, she netted about $1 500 and at least $100 in a bad month.
Mrs Munkuli, who has already finished repaying her loan, encouraged other villagers to apply for the loans, saying it was the other available way to take them from poverty.
“People should desist from dependency syndrome of receiving cash transfers as they come and go,” she said. “Fellow villagers should apply for these loans and do their own businesses.”
Mrs Munkuli said to qualify for the $500 loan, she surrendered her 12 goats and 10 chickens as collateral.
Another beneficiary, Mr Phillip Muleya from Chileya village, who initially applied for a $100 dollar loan to start a fishing business, applauded the initiative, saying it was the way to go for people keen on self-reliance.
“I had applied for a smaller loan because I wasn’t sure of the facility since it’s a new initiative here, but since I have repaid my loan and now working on a bigger project, I will be re-applying for a bigger loan,” he said.
According to Zimbabwe Statistics Agency’s poverty income and consumption survey for 2011/12, an estimated 76 percent of rural households in the country were poor and 23 percent were deemed extremely poor.