Friday, June 30, 2006


ASAP is pleased to announce that staff member Farai Pegara's wife has given birth to a healthy baby boy! The baby has been named Kelvin Farai Pegara.

May Kelvin grow to see a better Zimbabwe than we do now.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Life that Changed

A poem from Field Officer Paul Mundete

We were leading shameful lives,
Lives full of frustrations,
We had lost all hope,
Living from hand to mouth,
We always wondered,
What tomorrow would bring forth.

ASAP came to our reserve,
Gave us hope,
Bright ideas,
At first, we were afraid,
What fear! Fear of the unknown,
ASAP answered our prayers,
Gave us confidence,
The sense of ownership,
Restored our lost pride,

Thank you ASAP,
Carry on with that work,
That of uplifting people’s lives,
Rescuing us from shameful hands of poverty,
ASAP, We salute you.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Donating and Dependency

“International development is complex: it overflows with good intentions but often fails to produce positive results. In Uganda, foreign grants account for 33 percent of the 2003–2004 government budget. However, when I arrived in Uganda in June 2003, the headlines of The NewVision, Uganda’s largest daily newspaper, read: “Aid Has Failed to Develop Africa.”1 Weekly editorials and opinion letters criticized the spending of foreign aid dollars. Fr. Michael Corcoran of the Mill Hill Missionaries in East Africa advocated self-reliance, saying “you Africans must be the primary experts of your development because you know your values and aspirations.”2 Gordon Opiyo, a writer for Kenya’s Standard, expressed concern over aid dependency in his 13 July article entitled “Has the Government Thought of the Pitfalls of Aid?” Most Ugandans agree that foreign aid is necessary, but they worry about continued dependence and the debt their children will have to pay.”

The True Agents of Change in Africa
Eric Pohlman, Georgetown University

This article reflects my own thoughts on the complex relationship between international aid and dependency. It is difficult to see so many needs in Africa and around the world and to know how to address them in ways that will be sustainable and helpful in the long-run. If I were confronted with people who were hungry, I would reach for the clearest and most immediate solution: give them food. Food aid is necessary in some situations, but it often reinforces the idea that these individuals cannot solve their problems without outside help. I’m learning that any emergency aid must be coupled with long term training to help the beneficiaries learn how to meet their own needs.

That’s what I love about working for ASAP. All of ASAP’s projects are focused on empowering people to improve their own lives. Communities come together to identify and prioritize their needs and brainstorm ways to address them. Then, ASAP helps with support and training. In this way, the participants take ownership of the projects and learn valuable skills that they can use long after the project has ended. A perfect example of this approach is the Kufusa Mari project. You can read more about it here.

Foreign aid is necessary for developing countries like Zimbabwe. Still, governments, international aid organizations, and private donors must be careful to ensure their efforts are empowering the beneficiaries and not forcing them into greater dependence. Comment to share your thoughts!


Friday, June 23, 2006

In the News

Here are two news sources that are worth checking out.

BBC offers a section of personal stories from Zimbabwe that put a face on the statistics.

NPR has a series of in-depth audio reports on the situation in Zimbabwe.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Give us this day our daily bread...

Regai Tsunga, ASAP’s Program Manager, offers his observations on the rampant inflation in Zimbabwe, which has now surpassed 1200%.

A standard loaf of bread now costs Z$150,000.00 up from Z$120,000.00 last month!! I can confirm that the same loaf cost Z$85,000.00 (April), Z$60,000.00 (March), Z$45,000.00 (February) and Z$30,000 in January. It's ridiculous to say the least. Bread has now become more of a luxury than a basic need for most Zimbabweans as one would need at least Z$4,500,000.00 a month for a loaf of bread each day.

You may also be interested to know that a kilogram of economy beef now costs $702,000.00 whereas it cost $200,000 in January. A trip by public transport to the city centre from the residential areas now ranges between $50,000.00 and $100,000.00 dollars.

Indications are that the prices are destined to rise significantly now that the price of gas (petrol and diesel) has just shot up from $200,000.00 to between $400,000.00 and $600,000.00 a litre.

Shocking numbers indeed. I guess the printing press at the central bank is on 24hours a day. Our highest denomination is a $100,000.00 bill-not enough for a loaf of bread. You ask how anyone is able to afford to eat? Simple - skip meals. Here, people may opt for what they call 011 or 101 or 001. The three digits per set represent Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. In the case of 011, the person skips breakfast. The 0 represents a skipped meal. Sadly of course not too many people now have decent meals as incomes continue to be eroded by inflation. We remain optimistic.


Bad to Worse

Time magazine examines the link between inflation, poverty, malnutrition and AIDS.
Zimbabwe's Prices Rise 900%, Turning Staples Into Luxuries
The New York Times observes that with current prices in Zimbabwe, dollar bills may have a better use than buying toilet paper…

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Just the facts

Here are some statistics that have stuck out to me in my research on Zimbabwe. The needs are truly overwhelming.

Population: 12,236,805
Life expectancy at birth: 37.2 yrs
Median age: 19.9 years

Percentage of adults living with HIV/AIDS: 20.1%
Estimated number of people infected per day: 565
Orphans due to AIDS: 1,100,000

GNI per capita in US dollars: $480
GDP growth (annual %): -4.2%
Unemployment rate: 80%
Population below poverty line: 80%
Percentage of population below $1 a day: 56%

Check out these links for more in-depth information on this country in crisis.
HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe
A Family of Orphans

Thanks to World Bank, UNICEF, CIA World Factbook, and for providing the statistics.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Africa Day

Today as I was trying to organize my hopelessly cluttered picture files, I came across one photo that reminded me of what non-profit fundraising should look like. This picture, taken on May 25 at ASAP’s Africa Day fundraising dinner shows Will Pesante presenting a very large check to one very surprised executive director, Elizabeth Bara. After hearing Mrs. Bara speak at their school about the overwhelming needs in southern Africa, Will and his classmates from Sandy Creek High School were moved to action. They held several fundraisers including a car wash and managed to raise almost $1,000!

Their fundraising efforts came at an incredibly busy time in their lives when they were preparing for finals and graduation. Though it would have been easy to say that other people who were older, had more money, or didn’t have to take finals could do more, the students decided to do what they could to help people they had never met. At a time when skepticism and criticism over non-profit fundraising is growing, the students of Sandy Creek High School demonstrated what charitable giving should look like: unselfish service. It makes me wonder, “What could I do if I stopped thinking about me?”


Want to know who's writing these posts? Go here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sharing Knowledge

Here, a Kufusa Mari savings club participant shares the knowledge that has helped her break the cycle of poverty in her life. Similarly, we want to use this blog to share what we are learning with whoever takes a moment to listen. Continue the conversation by commenting or emailing us.

You can see more pictures of the Kufusa Mari project here.

Welcome to ASAP Africa's NewsBlog!

ASAP Africa is a small non-profit organization that works for sustainable development in Southern Africa. We focus on helping communities to become self-reliant by sharing knowledge through rural savings clubs, support for education, health and nutrition training, and agricultural improvements. Our work is sometimes challenging, but always exciting!

We hope to use this blog to give voices to ASAP's staff in both Africa and the United States. Here, we will share their thoughts on everything from life in a third world country to the challenges of fundraising to the joys of development work.

Check back soon!