WHO ARE WE?
We are an active, vibrant and leading activist Community Foundation based in Matabeleland, province in Zimbabwe. Our name is Uluntu Community Foundation (UCF), we were registered in 2008 with the aim of facilitating community led people centered development. We work towards eliminating poverty and hunger in the targeted communities. To fulfill our mission, we mobilise resources (financial, technical, material and intellectual) and use them to support the communities that we work with in urban and rural areas so that they can build strong movements capable of resisting injustice in any form and eliminating poverty.
We also offer unique opportunities and a vehicle to individuals and groups for strategic giving, learning about the communities that we support, and promoting local philanthropy.
We are youngish but bold, we do not stammer, our voice is loud and demanding. We call attention to development barriers, speak, support and promote initiatives that act against injustice, call out discrimination, shape constructive conversations in communities, challenge opposing voices and celebrate victories. Uluntu makes news and responds to the headlines: We regularly contribute to, and are cited in prominent development circles and community foundation global family publications.
VALUES: Our values are based on love and respect for the people that we serve, we believe in inclusiveness, diversity and innovation. We believe that real social change happens from the ground up; that those who experience problems have the perspective necessary to solve them, our role is to ensure that we support genuine citizen‑led development. We are an activist fund/organisation because we stand alongside the communities we are working with. We walk alongside our constituency.
OUR FOCUS: For over 5 years, we’ve supported activities initiated by those on the ground who are most impacted by poverty, lack of food, lack of children’s facilities, violence and other forms of injustice so as to unleash their potential. The majority of our grantees are women, most of whom have been abandoned by husbands who crossed the border and settled in South Africa.
Convinced that community advocacy builds awareness and gives a voice to local communities, Uluntu Community Foundation focuses on the following thematic areas:
- Food Security and Livelihoods,
- Social entrepreneurship
These activities are undertaken and shaped by the communities we work with rather than being developed from outside of those communities. In supporting these activities, we offer more than money; we mobilise and organise communities, provide technical assistance, organise follow up activities and promote advocacy.
A GLIMPSE ON THE GROUND
Difficult context: The Matabeleland South Province is located in Western Zimbabwe. Generally, the poverty level is high in the Province due to a number of factors such as low rainfall, poor soils, high levels of mobility to countries around the region, that include Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia. Mobility results in men leaving women and children at home and often abandoning them completely and creating other families. Women left behind are often marginalised by extended families and by governmental bodies responsible for allocation of resources.
Agricultural productivity is also low in the region due to land degradation, lack of rain, soil erosion and the short growing seasons. Inadequate machinery and equipment for preparation and planting, weeding and harvesting of crops results in the communities being unable to take advantage of the first rain of the season. As a result of late planting, their crops are affected by drought.
Poverty and Food Security: Food shortage is on the increase due to factors such as unequal distribution of resources, poverty, migration of men to neighboring countries and climate change. As a result, the country has no food reserves and has become a perennial food importer. This hinders development in a number of ways such as children’s inability to go to school or dropping out, inability to participate in development initiatives and general malaise.
Environmental Issues: The environment, both in rural and urban areas is gradually being degraded. Among the contributing factors are poor farming methods, deforestation and overgrazing in some parts of the country. This is further worsened by the global climate change. Communities have suffered greatly, especially in terms of food production. It is against this background that UCF seeks to partner with communities in reducing poverty at the same time inculcating a sense of environmental consciousness and lobbying for adoption of environmental friendly practices such as terracing and conservation farming.
Gender and Women: The marked increased levels of violence against women and abuse of children especially girls is cause for concern. Violence against women and gender-based violence deny far too many women the opportunity to live happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives and hence the need to pay attention to this concern.
Education and birth registration: The number of girls who don’t go to school represents a huge pool of untapped girl power. Powerful educated women are more likely to get married later, survive childbirth, raise healthy children, find work, and earn more money, among other positives.
Birth registration is another problem faced by some households in this region due to out of the country births mainly from parents who have found homes in neighboring countries and who send back the children without sufficient documentation to allow them to be issued with birth certificates. Migration and HIV and AIDS have also created child-headed households who lost their parents to AIDS or whose parents migrated to other countries and did not come back.
Uluntu acknowledges that communities are both the subjects and objects of change and they have strength and knowledge about their situation, hence whatever we do, we co-create with them. We work with other partners; our donors, allies and many other organisations that promote community philanthropy.
Our activism translates into profound, tangible impacts within communities. It also translates into policy changes that give communities a sense of hope. We are convinced that through philanthropic activities, communities will eventually rely on their collective energy and power to continue developing their communities. It is also assumed that through improved agriculture, the communities will be in a better position to improve their livelihoods and health status. Knowledge imparted and exchanged from the educational learning activities and from training workshops is important for women and their families if used properly.
Supporting communities especially women to build strong movements that work collectively, understand how power operates and lobbying for policies that improve their wellbeing is likely to lead to sustainable development.
MONITORING, EVALUATION AND LEARNING
We travel alongside communities by organising forums for learning collectively. We visit periodically in order to monitor collaboratively with communities and give onsite support. The learning is always ploughed back into the work that we do.