This chapter presents the findings and discussions from the data collected during field research on the impact of NGOs projects on the socio-economic development of Zimbabwe’s rural communities using Emadwaleni ward 14 of Matobo District. Mazise (2011) suggested that the importance of having data presentation, discussions and analysis is to satisfy the requirements of the objectives of the study. The purpose of this chapter is to weigh the extent to which the research objectives were achieved. The researcher used interviews, observations and desk review of existing literature to gather data. A purposive sampling method was used in the selection of respondents.
“The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world, the West should provide more aid”- Tony Blair
There are more than 10 NGOs implementing development projects in the community of Emadwaleni. These include World Vision, World Food Programme (WFP), Sizimele, Fambidzanani, Muriti Wasitshaba, ORAP, Christian Care, Habakkuk Trust, Masakhaneni Project Trust, Save the Children, Emthonjeni Women Forum, and Christian Legal. The projects being implemented by these NGOs range from livelihood programmes to meagre infrastructural projects such as; food aid and food security, water and sanitation, rehabilitation of weir dams, income generating projects (IGPs), environmental management, agricultural development, capacity building and advocacy for gender equality and children’s rights. The beneficiaries are selected according to the vulnerability rankings in the society with 32 the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), people living with disability and the women being the target. For the agricultural projects such as conservation farming, small livestock projects, those already doing farming and with livestock are catered for.
The process of coming up with a development project for a rural community such as Emadwaleni has proven to be a matter of concern for the community to realize real development. There have been unclear involvement of the community in choosing preferences for the projects. Oakley (1999) cements the above statement that the planning of development programmes and projects is often centralized and planning procedures discourage local participation. One of the respondent from the civil society posits that the process is regarded to be exclusive in nature. Information on what should be done for a community is determined by data from previous surveys which shows ignorance of the changes that take place in communities. NGOs embark on a process of analysing available data in the comfort of their offices and give assumptions on the financial budgets that can best suit the prophesied project without involving the beneficiaries of the projects.
Theoretically, the government officials were keen to explain the process that should be taken in order for the interventions to be acute and congruent to the community needs, however there are loopholes which make the projects to be off-tangent to the community demands. One government official interviewed responded that people should choose what they want through the community structures such as the village development committee (VIDCO) and the ward development committee (WADCO). Oakley (1999) further noted that poverty is not just a lack of physical resources for development, it also implies powerlessness or the inability to exert influence upon the forces which shape one’s livelihood. This study has found out that these committees have been wrecked down along partisan structures and are used as political cells for strengthening its support base in the rural areas. This gives the rural grassroots a little determinant power compared to air their community concerns.
It is so shaming fact to say that NGOs are the key drivers of choosing what should be done in the communities despite their little knowledge of the problems that hamper the rural communities. This has been acknowledged by a research participant who said that; abantu bekhansilini labamaNGOs baletha inhlelo bengazibuzanga izidingo zethu maqala (the RDC and the NGOs brings the projects to us and threaten us not to reject the projects). Community consultation is made in the implementation stage during the inception meetings. A puzzle is; should we say communities participate in decision making during the monitoring and evaluation stage or the review of a project in its life cycle? Definitely a sane answer would be no. The NGOs operating in this district have shown sympathy to the fact that they respond to donor callings and only consult the people to inform them what the donor has given the community which makes aid a culture commodity (Moyo, 2009).
Abantu bamaNGO bahlezi bekhala bethu abalandleko ezaneleyo zokusinikeza amaproject esiwadingayo esisweni sakithi (these NGOs always tell us that they don’t have sufficient funds to do the projects which we want). 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) alluded 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 concert is meaningless’ and this can lead to a fatal failure of the project although some may succeed to a limited timeframe.
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). When asked who brings the projects to them, the community’s response was 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 said that, “amaNGO ayasitshela ngamaproject abafuna ukuzowenza” (NGOs tell us what project they want to implement). This has made community based decision a puzzle in Matobo district.
Though Matobo district is sometimes a friendly community, NGOs have not found a paradisiac path in the walk of development. The major challenge that the NGOs face in the district has emanated from the ignorance that is with the development agents who disregard the community dynamics and false perceptions about the Matobo community culture. Most projects brought for the communities are based on previous researches which are beyond the changes that have taken place in the district, this usually provokes the emotions of the community members.
Traditional differences between the community beneficiaries and the implementing agency has always made the operations of NGOs sour in the district. Most NGOs are manned with the staff from the neighbouring provinces and districts who are not indigenous, and these people find it difficult to communicate and adapt to the cultural practises such as taboos in the region. Traditional beliefs hinders the implementation of the projects especially when it comes to issues pertaining to the empowerment of women and children’s rights as well as gender equity issues. These are regarded as attempts to erode the Matobo people’s culture.
According to Scoones (2015), power politics and social differences and the governance systems have implications on the operations of NGOs. The politics of Zimbabwe has never failed to impinge NGOs and stand on their ways as they travel a rough journey of development in the rural areas. Due to the failure of the ruling party ZANUPF to take over the two constituencies of Matobo, the NGOs have been labelled to be in support of the opposing parties since they have been in the District with the people of Binga since the decade of the minority people began. The development aspect in Binga district is being pushed by the civil society sector compared to the government itself. A good example given by one NGO staff member was the issue of the Tonga language which came to be examinable at ordinary level due to the influence of the Basilwizi Trust. This has led to NGOs operating in fear as they cannot articulate the most sensitive activities due to follow-ups and monitoring done by the president’s office on them. From the respondents, it was learnt that NGOs are sometimes barred from accessing the rural communities by the political leaders, local leaders and even the politicians at the grassroots instil fear in the agency.
Lack of accountability of NGOs to the communities of operation has led to the ignorance and poor participation of the people in the NGOs funded projects. One government official insisted that NGOs have faced a predicament of female attendances with man passively participating. A village head from one of the villages noted that man cannot participate in the project which they have not chosen and the projects are for women so that the funds cannot be taken to other wards as stipulated by the RDC. However, this doesn’t come to a conclusion that the people don’t participate in all the NGOs’ projects.
The above tune is reverberated by the semantics of Sir Edward Clay who said that Kenya’s corrupt ministers were eating like gluttons and vomiting on the shoes of the foreign donors, the observations he made upon visiting Kenya in 2004. In regard to this, it is precise to mention that NGOs are suffering from the axe of the corrupt leadership and even within themselves as Dambisa Moyo iterated that corruption is a way of life. The failure by NGOs to complete the development projects lacked explanation and the only answer made by the community members was that they are misusing the funding.
Lack of participation by the communities to the implementation of NGOs projects was highly attributed to a lack of a sense of ownership of the projects by many NGOs respondents. This is a jigsaw puzzle for the community as they don’t have knowledge of who crafts the projects for them, and the projects are later owned by the RDC in the case of funds being ceased by the donors. Most NGOs projects have a short life span which fail to fulfil the requirements of the project objectives and leaves the communities gapping for more. Hence such under funded projects pose problems for the NGOs in these underdeveloped rural areas which have high expectations.
In addition to the above, financial constraints, competition for clients as the NGOs duplicate the projects in the same ward, have turned the attitude of people towards NGOs negatively. Most projects are left before completion due to lack of funding as an example of Chenga dam project (left by Dabane Trust) was given. This forces the people to cooperate with those NGOs which give material handouts and do infrastructural projects such as building of schools and toilets. Not only do the communities have a negative attitude, but the BRDC also has the same tendency which is evidenced by the delays in signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for NGOs as was an experience of Carbon Green Africa (Kariba Red+) which got its MoU a year after their request and the time frame of the implementation was reduced from 4 to 3 years.
Langley (2015) has put it clear that policies associated with the Kariba dam project still impact the daily lives of those living in the region of Binga. This means that the development discourse in the district is negated by the inaccessibility of some parts of the district as there are no defined routes and communication network is limited too which is a political baby of the colonial government. Furthermore, Moyo (2009) pointed out that most governments interfere with the rule of law, the establishment of transparent civil institutions and the protection of civil liberties. For the Zimbabwean government, this is not an exemption as there has been a continued banning of aid agency and NGOs in Binga leading to deaths of people in some instances (Gande, 2002).

Burnell and Randal (2008: 173) said that where the state is incapable, NGOs help people survive and maintain a semblance of normal life under very difficult conditions. NGOs projects have brought a great positive change in the community of Manjolo. These changes have improved the standard of living for the people, for example one women acknowledged that “bakatuyakila zimbuzi” (they have built toilets for us) of which a majority of them cannot afford to acquire in their live due to the unavailable income.
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. Newly established schools have benefited from the NGOs and this is a clear indication that the impact of NGOs projects have a positive impact to the development of the people. Most schools in Binga 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 on the next page 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.

Source: Survey 2015
Figure 2: Education infrastructure
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. Binga 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
Source: Survey 2015
Figure 3: Agricultural interventions

the Masibinta 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.
However, NGOs have turned a blind eye on the health sector for the community of Manjolo. People depend on the district hospital which is twenty 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, twapenga chibbadela chabulika (we have a problem of a clinic). This has subjugated the community to the diseases such malaria which is common in summer in the region. 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 Majolo as more children are going to school than before. A school child had this to say during a discussion, tulinka kuchikolo bukozyania abalombe (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.

Sustainability is always a question that should be asked NGOs and a must consider aspect whenever there is a project to be implemented in a community. Most respondents have indicated that a lot of projects implemented by NGOs in the rural communities is unsustainable. The cause of this unsustainability is a lack of engagement from the planning to the implementation phase of a project. According to Rahman (1983), externally motivated development projects frequently fail to sustain themselves once the initial level of project support or inputs either diminish or are withdrawn. There is no continuity to the projects such food aid as the community members said that tuyanda meenda kuti tulilimine, chakupegwa tachizuzyibutala (we don’t want food aid, we need water so that we can produce for ourselves)
Development for the rural communities has proven to be in the terms of building infrastructure. Kuti batuyakila chikolo bana besu banoyiya, nekuba kuti benda tulachala katulanga milimu yabo (if they build schools our children will learn and even if they go we will remember their works). For some building schools is a major concern and for others building a dam is a priority to enhance year round crop production to enhance food security. Some development practitioners confirmed that the nature of their projects and the life span has made it tough for them to achieve sustainability in their operations.
Arturo Escobar’s theory (1995) has meaning to the lack of sustainability of NGOs’ projects as he said that people have to develop themselves rather than relying on ill-suited ideas from overseas. The relevance of NGOs development activities is a guess work for the practitioners as most projects were rendered invalid imports to the community and the people accepted them because they have no other option out of the poverty limbo and their hope rests on NGOs only as Burnell and Randal (2008: 171) says that African populations relies on NGOs for survival. The expectations of the people of Manjolo is to have infinity interventions from NGOs and to benefit equally during the implementation of a project since the projects are implemented along the gender lines ignoring the other sections of the community. The improvement of the education system through the provision of scholarships to children is envied by the community. The words of Oakley (1999) is a reflection on why these projects fail as he suggested that participation by the community members can ensure local people maintain the projects dynamics.
Lack of project ownership has negatively affected the relevance of the projects and simultaneously it has brought some limitations to the sustainability of the projects. Although NGOs prompted that the people do not want to own the projects, the matters starts with them as they take the projects to the people basing on the stipulations of the donor communities. This study found out that most projects are neglected soon after implementation because the people consider them to belong to the civil society.
This study has established that the community of Manjolo has a problem of water. This was made clear by one informant who said that the cattle from Manjolo is a problem to the district center and during winter they travel for almost 21 kilometers to the Zambezi river to access water. However, the recommended radius of 500 meters to the next water point is a myth for the communities too as they travel for nearly 5 kilometers to the major water points as one women noted during the interview. Most weir dams being rehabilitated by NGOs are usually washed away by storms during the summer rainy season which makes the transition from summer to winter ambiguous for the people. Lancaster and Vickery (2007:265) have recorded one community member in an interview sharing his thoughts on the government’s priorities;
It is painful when we learn that the water is to be channeled to Bulawayo. Manjolo School has no water. It is impossible to take water to Manjolo eighteen kilometers away from that river.
People have no access to health services and almost the whole community has challenges in accessing these facilities as they have to walk for 21 kilometers to the nearest hospital. Such conditions leaves little to be admired as Burnell and Randal (200) has written that in the past three decades, developing countries have prioritized construction of large dams, promoting industrial farming, extracting timber and mineral, whence there is nothing said about the health sector. A concerned citizen suggested that if these organizations can establish a clinic for the people, then their work can be more commendable. Hence Amartya Sen’s theory (1988) that the rich cannot lift the poor out of poverty and the local committees need to address their own problems using their own ideas gain relevance.
Some community members were of the view that the NGOs should utilize their finances properly for them to establish an irrigation scheme in the drought prone region. However, an irrigation is being established under the auspice of Grace Mugabe although the water will be drawn directly from the Zambezi River. Some community members complained that the people who have managed to get some plots in the wished irrigation are government official and those politically affiliated to ZANUPF which compromise the objective of fighting poverty and promoting corruption.
This chapter has made an attempt to highlight as well as evaluate the impact of the NGOs projects on the socio-economic development of rural communities in Zimbabwe with special emphasis on Emadwalenui ward. Findings from the research have shown revealed that NGOs craft and impose projects on the communities in rural Binga and the community accept due to desperation whereas sustainability has not been fully achieved at the end. The researcher has also found that the community of Emadaleni Manjolo Ward is in dire need of water for both agriculture and human consumption.