Addressing the educational needs of girls and boys impacted by devastating cyclones in Zimbabwe.

ECW in Zimbabwe

In 2019, violent cyclones ravaged Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries in Southern Africa. The storms devastated entire communities and there were urgent humanitarian needs in terms of public health, nutrition, protection, sanitation and education in emergencies. Communities and essential infrastructure, including schools, were damaged or destroyed, leaving thousands of children out of the classroom and in harm's way. Education Cannot Wait (ECW) addressed the crisis through a regional emergency response covering Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. The Fund’s support focused on rebuilding schools; providing educational supplies; promoting disaster resilience messaging; training educators to address the psychosocial needs of students; increasing enrolment; and creating disaster mitigation strategies.

Geographical Areas of ECW-funded Interventions
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Financial Information

National Counterparts

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Health

Programme Info

In 2019, Southern Africa was hit by two of the most extreme cyclones to ever make landfall in the region, leaving a trail of destruction across Comoros, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In March, Cyclone Idai, a category 2 cyclone, brought winds of 105 miles per hour; and just over a month later the region was struck by Cyclone Kenneth, a category 4 cyclone, with winds of 140 miles per hour. The cyclone and flooding happened right before the annual harvest season, with devastating consequences for agriculture, livestock and fisheries.

These climate-induced disasters created urgent humanitarian needs in terms of public health, nutrition, protection, sanitation and education in emergencies. Many children and families were displaced as homes, schools and communities were damaged or destroyed. Out-of- school girls and boys were exposed to increased risks of abuse and exploitation. Academic achievement and enrolment rates plummeted, and persistent barriers disincentivized children from returning to school.

ECW’s First Emergency Response (FER) supported a swift return to learning for affected children and adolescents. The programme included reparations for damaged schools; the provision of educational supplies to communities; the distribution of life-saving messaging on disaster risk reduction and the training of education personnel on psychosocial support for students. It also supported communities to ensure continued enrolment, and the Government to implement disaster mitigation strategies in an effort to build resilience and prepare for future events.

Programme Components

  • Disaster risk reduction training and support. Training on disaster risk reduction topics was provided to education personnel, mapping and plans were developed, implemented and monitored in coordination with grantees, civil society organizations and government stakeholders.
  • Ensuring continuity of education. Mitigated the long- and short-term impacts of education loss. With the support of grantees, national authorities advanced towards the creation of effective and robust disaster mitigation strategies that align with education plans. Grantees also provided holistic incentives for children to re-enrol and remain in school, including the payment of school fees and school-feeding programmes.
  • Making physical improvements to schools. Grantees rehabilitated and built classrooms and temporary learning spaces and identified additional spaces in need of rehabilitation. Latrines were constructed to promote hygiene. Sanitation and the provision of safe water stations contributed to controlling the cholera health emergency caused by the cyclones.
  • Producing public awareness campaigns. Supported the development of education awareness, disaster preparedness and health campaigns to reach thousands of people across the region and prepare for future events.
  • Providing quality learning resources. Grantees distributed individual learning materials to children and learning resources to classrooms. The learning resources were designed to improve the quality of education inside and outside the classroom.
  • Providing training for educators. Thousands of education personnel received psychosocial support training to address the high levels of stress reported in children.

For more information on ECW's work in Zimbabwe, please contact Michelle May:

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