Sifisimpilwenhle Community Health Club Raises Funds to Improve their Health
Date: April 2018
Place: Ward 17, Gwanda
In western Zimbabwe, a group of dedicated community members from Gohole Village are working to improve their health with the support of the USAID-funded Amalima program. The members belong to Sifisimpilwenhle Community Health Club (CHC), named from the Ndebele word meaning, “we wish for a better life.” The CHC promotes improved health and hygiene behaviors and has inspired other community members to improve their own nutrition and health.
As part of USAID’s efforts to improve nutrition and health, the Amalima program works with communities to establish CHCs, like this one, in Amalima’s four districts of Bulilima, Mangwe, Gwanda and Tsholotsho. Since the program started in 2013, 415 CHCs have been established. Amalima provides a participatory health and hygiene education curriculum to train CHCs on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and on other Participatory Health and Hygiene curriculums. After members graduate, Amalima encourages CHC alumni groups to pursue income generating activities to keep the groups together, maintain momentum for practicing good WASH behaviors, and enable groups to fund the construction and establishment of hygiene enabling facilities, such as “tippy taps” handwashing stations, pot racks, and latrines. The CHCs support behavior changes in their communities around WASH practices. For groups that want to start an income generating activity, Amalima will first provide Village Saving and Lending training on group formation, constitution development, group fund development, loans and loan appraisal, and recordkeeping, so the groups the can build savings to fund their activity. Amalima will then provide a Selection, Planning and Management training on starting an income generating activity and provide ongoing support on the specific activity. Sifisimpilwenhle CHC was formed in 2014, and then members graduated from the Participatory Health and Hygiene curriculum in 2015. After graduating, 11 of the 33 club members formed a village saving and lending group to fund an income generating activity breeding goats. Amalima provides targeted, ongoing support to the group by training them on goat management, including nutrition, breeding, health, housing, and goat marketing. Members started by each donating two goats (for a total of 22 goats) and have since expanded the groups’ herd to over 60 goats. As most of their breeders will be kidding from April to May; they expect to increase their herd to over 100 goats.
Sifisimpilwenhle uses a portion of their Village Saving & Lending funds to support their income generating activities and uses the proceeds to fund hygiene enabling facilities in their homes. Members make regular contributions to their Village Saving and Lending fund to purchase supplementary feed, construct goat pens, and purchased a Boer buck from ICRISAT3 to improve their herd. Using money earned through the sale of their goats, all the members of the group have constructed latrines and set up other hygiene enabling facilities4 in their homes. As the group continues to sell their herd they also hope to use proceeds to support other community members. One group member Mr Hupulang Nyathi echoed that “as a group we are prepared to drill our own borehole if we manage to raise funds; so that we improve our health and hygiene practices. This will be an advantage to us and the surrounding community who don’t have access to adequate and clean water”.
Sifisimpilwenhle is has also influenced other members of the community. Success from their goat project has inspired four other groups form their own income generating activities and village saving and lending projects and further support nutrition and health in the area.