Village of Macheke

Macheke is a small farming community in Zimbabwe with about 8,300 people (est. 2006 census) that was formed during the colonial period because of its rich agricultural soils. Zimbabwe is one of the poorest countries in the world defined by high unemployment and the majority of its citizens living in abject poverty. In the recent years, Zimbabwe suffered one of the worst economic downturns in the world and in 2008, it was estimated that the inflation rate soared to 87 sextillion percent. To put this in perspective, when an apple would cost 1 dollar on Monday, it would cost 64 dollars by Sunday and just over 1 billion dollars in a month. The largest bank note that the government of Zimbabwe released was the 100 trillion dollar bill issued in January 2009, before the local currency was officially deleted. Within the last three decades, Macheke has gone from hosting over 300 active commercial farms to just about 14, most of which are producing at less than 5% capacity. The majority of the land is used as subsistence farm land, with most of the locals living below the poverty line as defined by hunger, prevalent disease such as HIV/AIDS and lack of access to relevant education. The village has 1 small clinic, about 5 schools (no university), no banks and no formal industry. There is 1 river which is currently devastated by effects of damming and pollution. Much of the wildlife has migrated or died out due to fires, extreme foresting and environmentally unfriendly hunting. The soil has managed to hold up some of its quality, though the years of unsustainable agricultural practices have negatively affected many plots of land across the village. Indeed, the challenges have been immense, but the people of Macheke continue to work hard and carry hope that much like the wild fruit comes in abundance each rainy season, the socio-economic issues will resolve and an opportunity for a life of dignity will arise. It is their deep humility and perseverance that inspired the founding of the Macheke Sustainability Project.


Opportunities in Macheke

MSP embraces these opportunities to support sustainable development in Macheke: - existing poverty (people are willing to support the initiatives that could lift them up) - fertile land (factor for food security; most people rely on land for a living) - schools are embracing the sustainability model (relevant education is key) - local government agencies are in support of MSP (less hurdles) - some existence of traditional ecological knowledge - support from Monmouth University (research provides structure to the work) - support from donors (e.g. Segal Family Foundation) - MSP is led by a citizen of Zimbabwe who was raised in Macheke


Challenges in Macheke

MSP acknowledges these challenges: - poor communication technology - unreliable/unaffordable energy supply (power and fuel) - unreliable water supply (only 4months of rain a year) - poor real-estate infrastructure (must build from scratch) - inconsistent levels of the country’s general stability (socio-economic, socio-political) - existing poverty (conditions have not supported innovation and knowledge building)



How MSP differs from other social development projects in Zimbabwe