With peak hunger season approaching in Zimbabwe, many people are once again feeling the strain. One community is bucking the trend, though, having reaped the rewards of a British Red Cross project funded by players of People's Postcode Lottery. The project aims to better prepare rural communities to withstand and recover from recurring disasters and crises. The five-year programme aims to help 25,000 people, with one of it's main aims to improve access to clean water.
In Mabhiza school, children now start the day with a nutritious bowl of porridge – just six months ago this wasn't possible. The school teaches more than 1,600 children, who until July 2016 had no clean water source. Children as young as four had to cross a busy road to fetch water from a well. The dirty water would often leave them ill. Now, thanks to the Red Cross, the school's borehole has been repaired and children are healthier.
The school's head teacher, Rita Makiwabeni, explained, "Before the borehole was repaired about 60 children would go home sick a day with illnesses like diarrhoea. But now thanks to the Red Cross we have as much clean water as we need to drink. Because of clean water, we can now make the children a bowl of porridge. This is vital in helping them to concentrate and learn, as so many only receive one meal a day at home."
The impact of the first clean water source in 11 years is being felt in other ways as well.
"We used to find it difficult to recruit teachers," said Rita. "But now many teachers apply to work here and thanks to the Red Cross the children’s pass rate has gone up."
In total, players of People's Postcode Lottery have committed over £1 Million to the Red Cross to empower people and communities in Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Guinea and across West Africa's Lake Chad region.