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Our work in Zimbabwe is focused on gender equality, and improved health systems and support for people affected by HIV and AIDS.

This year, access to treatment in prisons has improved as awareness around health issues has increased. Now, there is almost a 100% adherence to medication that treats HIV within prisons. In Zimbabwe's maximum security prison, adherence to this medication improved from around 50% before the project to almost 100% at the end of year. The prison also recorded significant reduction in prisoner deaths from 50 in 2015 to 8 in 2016/17. This is not only improving the quality of life for inmates inside, but is making for a happier, healthier society overall.

Our projects are not limited to working in prisons though. Our projects in Zimbabwe include:

GENDER (Gender Empowerment and Development to Enhance Rights) project

Brandina Mutanga Zimbabwe VSO

Brandina Mutanga is chairperson of a women's co-operative supported by VSO in Zimbabwe. She has used her share of the profits from their poultry business to establish a clothes stall, from which she earns $800-1000 per business cycle.

Zimbabwe's HIV prevalence is 14.7%, with women more likely to be affected (18%) than men. People who know their status can use HIV medication, otherwise known as anti-retroviral treatment. Adherence to medication can make HIV a manageable disease, with those who are HIV-positive still able to live long and healthy lives.

Stigma and lack of awareness can cause HIV to spread. Many women have little time or resources, which is a further barrier to accessing health services.

VSO promotes women's and girls' positive health-seeking behaviour with regards to sexual reproductive health, HIV and AIDS. Recent results include:

  • Reaching an estimated 2,800 people through various activities in Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Masvingo provinces, including 50 teachers
  • Supporting HIV-positive women entrepreneurs and co-operatives with low-labour-cost income-generation activities such as raising pigs and rabbits, and producing mushrooms

Prisons project

The prison population in Zimbabwe is at least twice as likely to have HIV and AIDS compared to the general population. However, prisons are typically under-funded and don't always have the resources to support these inmates.

To help combat the HIV and AIDS pandemic, we’re working with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service, local government departments and NGOs in six prisons in Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo and Masvingo provinces, to help improve the quality of life for 21,300 vulnerable prisoners infected or affected by the disease.

So far we’ve helped to:

  • ensure the accurate and timely testing of HIV positive prisoners
  • improve treatment and monitoring of affected patients
  • trained 169 peer educators
  • formed 15 support groups
  • trained 156 inmates on entrepreneurship and vocational skills

Ladders to Safety project

Adolescents and young people who have been HIV+ since birth face a particular set of challenges. They may not be informed of, or learn of their status until adolescence. Only about 56% of adolescents living with HIV in Zimbabwe are accessing treatment. Youth entering maturity with HIV face social pressures, isolation and loneliness which may lead to them being less likely to disclose their status and practise healthy sexual behaviours. There is a great need for more information about HIV and remaining healthy.

The Ladders to Safety project uses peer educators as the channel with which to share this crucial information. The ultimate goal is for adolescents and young people to accept their HIV+ status, and feel confident and comfortable to disclose it and adhere to Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART). We have:

  • Trained 28 HIV positive adolescents as peer educators
  • Successfully got the children of 276 parents onto ART
  • 137 young people referred to hospitals by peer educators

Volunteering for Development programme

The Volunteering for Development programme, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) works to improve quality and access to health and education services as well as livelihood opportunities for the most poor and vulnerable.

The grant recognises VSO's extensive experience of putting volunteers in the right places to tackle poverty and inequality. Find out more



We have strong local partnerships with local government and national state entities such as the National Prisons Organisation. Our valued local partners include the likes of Batanai HIV and AIDS Service Organisation and BHASO and Family AIDS Caring Trust.

Please get in touch if you would like to find out more about partnering with us.

Contact us

Interested in finding out more about our work in Zimbabwe? Please get in touch with us via email:

VSO Zimbabwe
4 Carlisle Road, Alexandra Park, Harare
P.O.Box CY 1836, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe

Phone: +263 4 744705 / 744706

Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Find out about volunteering in Zimbabwe with VSO