The EU has provided development assistance since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. Over the last 15 years, the EU and its Member States provided €2 billion to support the country’s development.
Between 2002 and 2014, direct EU cooperation with Zimbabwe’s government was suspended due to serious violations of human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. However, the population was never left alone. During those years EU development assistance was directed solely through non-governmental channels to the people of Zimbabwe.
EU development cooperation today
In November 2014, as a direct response to government efforts to promote constitutionalism and improve the rule of law, the EU restarted bilateral cooperation with the authorities. €234 million will be provided over €2014-2020.
Currently, the EU’s cooperation with Zimbabwe aims at reducing poverty as well as supporting peace and stability through inclusive and sustainable growth and the promotion of human rights, democracy and rule of law. Most EU funds continue to be channelled via international organisations (57%) or NGOs (40%), but are programmed in close consultation with the Government of Zimbabwe.
EU aid focusses on three key areas: (i) Health (€88 million), (ii) Agriculture-based economic development (€88 million) and (iii) Governance and institution building (€58 million).
In addition, the EU also supports human rights actions and has programmes with local authorities and civil society, recognising their role in the development of the country.
Key achievements of EU support in Zimbabwe
Health: The EU is a major contributor to the country’s Health Transition Fund. Since it was established, the ratios of maternal and under-five mortality have declined respectively from 960 to 651 deaths per 100,000 live births and from 75 to 69 per 1,000 live births (2015).
In 2017, around 94% of health facilities had 80% of selected essential medicines or health commodities available, a massive further improvement when compared to 65% in 2015. In 2015, 76% of the infants aged 12-23 months received all basic vaccinations (up from 65% in 2010-2011).
Agriculture and food security: more than 600,000 people were assisted between 2010 and 2015 to boost agricultural development, creating new jobs and supporting vulnerable communities.
El Niño crisis: The EU and Member States altogether contributed €118 million during 2015-2016 to assist over 2 million of the most vulnerable, supporting them with food assistance, water, sanitation and nutrition.
Under the Water facility initiative (2011-2017), €11 million benefitted 500,000 people in 2,000 villages. This contributed to improve access to adequate quantity and quality of water, toilet facilities for households, schools, clinics and improved hygiene practices.
Human Rights: Since 2011 the EU has also been supporting the capacities and the independence of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, assisting the establishment of a nationally-owned process for the promotion and protection of human rights. Furthermore, €1 million per year provides victims and human rights defenders with legal counselling and litigation assistance. Approximately 700 people were assisted in 2017 alone).
Examples of current EU development projects in Zimbabwe
Improving the health outcomes for the population of Zimbabwe: €88 million will have been dedicated to the health sector, all channelled through the Health Development Fund, a basket Fund managed by UNICEF. This latest project supports the Ministry of Health and Child Care to achieve its goals of improving the quality of life of citizens, through guaranteeing every Zimbabwean access to comprehensive and effective health services.
Support to the consolidation of the democratic process in Zimbabwe (€8 million): this project strengthens the capacity of the electoral administration and stakeholders to conduct credible elections in a transparent and inclusive way and in a peaceful and conducive environment.
Support to the rule of law and access to justice for all (€14 million): this project increases judicial independence, competence and integrity, the efficiency, transparency and accountability of justice-delivery systems as well as the capacity of the population to exercise their rights and access to justice.
Resilience building and food and nutrition security programme (€25.3 million): this project improves food and nutrition security and enhances the resilience capacities of target communities to better cope with shocks and stresses that repeatedly occur in Zimbabwe.