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Strengths and Weaknesses of Zimbabwe as viewed by Sustainable Development Goals
05. June 2018 at 21:26
Zimbabwe is a low income landlocked nation, situated in the southern part of Africa. It has a population of 15,6 million people. Despite Zimbabwe’s economic downturn in 2000, the latter has enjoyed increased growth and a booming economy and was once called “the breadbasket of Africa”. The launch of the new Sustainable Development Goals created a new trajectory for Zimbabwe. The year 2015 meant that Zimbabwe had to join other countries across the spatio- temporal divide in conducting the unfinished business relating to the SDGs. The SDGs are a core component of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted in September 2015. It is the purpose of this article to clearly analyse the strengths and weaknesses of Zimbabwe as viewed by the SDGs.
Overview of weaknesses of my Country as viewed by the SDGs
Zimbabwe still has a long way to go in terms of ensuring access to quality health for all its citizens. The SDG performance indicator views Zimbabwe as having many weaknesses in a number of aspects related to health service and delivery. There is a high number of maternal mortality per 100,000 live births. In addition, the healthy life expectancy of Zimbabwe is still around 50 years. This can be attributed to increased abject poverty especially among women as well as the effects of HIV/AIDS in the country that have reduced life expectancy. More so because of increased corruption as well as poor budget allocation on the health sector, weak capacity of the public health system, the former has suffered a great deal in development.

Still, on SDG 3, Zimbabwe has a weakness in providing health personnel in the field of public health, for example, the physician density per 1000 is very low recording 0.1. This shows that a number of doctors, surgeons, and many health personnel are still needed in Zimbabwe. This has been worsened by the increased brain-drain of health personnel. In terms of containing diseases, the health delivery system continues to face serious challenges such as the outbreak of dysentery, continued increase of maternal mortality and scarcity of essential drugs for patients. More so, this weakness can also be noted in the dilapidated health infrastructure that continues to worsen due to the economic downturn. There is still a weakness in the adolescents' fertility rates (adolescent fertility per 1000) is 120, which continues to skyrocket due to reduced utilization and lack of access to contraceptives for adolescents. This often leads to high teenage pregnancies. There is still a need for this gap to be closed before the year 2030.

Furthermore, Zimbabwe still has a weakness as viewed by SDG 2 of Zero Hunger. The SDG Index reveals that there is a high prevalence of undernourishment of 33, 4% among children who experience stunted growth. Stunting in most children has been caused by poor feed during infant stage and increased malnutrition. More so, the cereal yield is very poor amounting to 0.8% value rating as compared to other countries. This poor cereal yield clearly demonstrates that hunger is rife in Zimbabwe. Also because of poor agricultural systems, increased importation of food commodities, this has worsened the hunger situation. More so, because of lack of agricultural financing and increased drought, floods, and famine, hunger has continued to worsen. WFP Strategic Plan for 2017 to 2020 suggests that around 4, 1 million people in Zimbabwe faced hunger due to the effects of El Nino.

SDG 7 of energy also indicates a serious weakness for Zimbabwe. Energy is the key enabler to productivity as well as the development of the society and economy of Zimbabwe. However, the energy sector in Zimbabwe has faced a serious challenge because of dilapidated and obsolete generation equipment and infrastructure. More so, there has been poor and inadequate financing and capitalization of the energy sector. The SDG Index Dashboard July 2017 elaborates only 40,5% of Zimbabwe having access to electricity and there is lack of access to non-fuels. This simply shows that the rest of population still depends on other types of energy that include wood-fuel. Mainly extensive use of the wood-fuel leads to increased deforestation since electricity production is very low. The challenge of energy is further exacerbated by the increased dependence on energy imports (electricity) from South Africa.

In addition, Zimbabwe has poor institutions as viewed by SDG 16. Government effectiveness is poor as proven by rampant poverty and a few benefiting despite Zimbabwe endowment of resources such as diamond. Abuse of power by public officials and theft of public resources for personal use and gain. Since 2000, corruption has become endemic, including at the highest levels of government. Zimbabwe has been ranked 156 out of 175 highly corrupt countries in 2014 Global Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International. Institutions in Zimbabwe do not enforce contracts and also do not protect property rights. Zimbabwe government has repeatedly violated property rights. Its land reform program, characterized by chaos and violence, badly damaged commercial farming. Therefore, Zimbabwe lacks ease in doing business because of its harsh indigenization policy that has led to investment phobia.

Another weakness of Zimbabwe is that it still lacks quality, overall infrastructure as viewed by SDG 9. Most of the utilities including the infrastructure sector have not been revamped. Examples include roads, civil aviation, and railway networks. ZimAsset 2014 elaborates that this weakness has been caused by the shortage of capital and investments. More so Zim Asset 2014 also points out that in urban areas, there have been serious challenges which have been worsened by corruption among government administrators who use the funds to their own use. Therefore, this has led to inefficiency of infrastructure leading to poor water and sewage reticulations systems.

Access to improved water and sanitation remains a challenge in Zimbabwe. SDG 6 views Zimbabwe as having a challenge in water and sanitation access (76.7 % average). There is lack of quality water and sanitary services and protected water sources. More so, water and sanitation sector development have been weak because it has been built on state subsidies and on donor finance. This reduces sufficient focal point on future sustainability. As for access to water and sanitation, increased pollution continues to affect urban drinking water. In rural areas, most of the water sources have become dysfunctional and this has often led people to drink from unprotected water sources. This compromises hygiene and increases risk of water-borne diseases.

Zimbabwe also has a weakness of ensuring decent work for its citizens as viewed by SDG 9. Recent studies in Zimbabwe have shown the skyrocketing unemployment rate reaching 90%. Lack of decent employment opportunities is the biggest reason why Zimbabweans migrate thereby impacting largely on the economy through brain drain. This high unemployment rate is both in the formal and informal sector. Consequently, a large cohort of people turns to self-employment in Zimbabwe, the informal sector has largely grown to accommodate them. Currently half of Zimbabwe’s population is under 25 years and this large cohort will continue to grow in decennia if possibilities of decent work opportunities are not created. The unemployment rate from different sources ranges from 5.4% (World Bank), 11.3% (Zimbabwe Statistics Agency), 95% (CIA World Factbook) and 80% (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union). Despite different calculation methodologies of the unemployment rate, the underlying fact remains that unemployment is a major challenge for Zimbabwe.

Strengths oZimbabwe as viewes by the SDGs
Since education is one of the key areas of national development. The environment for the country has been very conducive to educational development.This is supported by the fact most of the population is educated for example students are smart, hardworking and highly competitive and there is a favorable environment for study and research. More so, Zimbabwe continues to pride itself in the field of education. The country boasts of its 90.9% of the literacy rate among 15 to 24-year-olds. In addition, the net enrolment rate has also improved in recent years including the expected years of schooling which recorded 10.9. Such kind of statistics simple reveals that Zimbabwe is making progress in achieving SDG 4 by the year 2030. More children have managed to access education including lifelong learning. In addition, the expected years of schooling as viewed by the SDG 4 is performing much better at 10.9 as compared to other countries in comparison to Ethiopia, Sudan, and Nigeria. This is a strength that is viewed by SDG goal 3 of ensuring universal quality education for all. These are all outstanding successes for the country in the field of education.

Zimbabwe also possesses strength in gender equality. It should be noted that the country has moved a great stride in achieving gender equality as well as empowering all women and girls as viewed by SDG 5. ILO (2000) defines gender equality as equality between men and women which entails that all human beings, both men, and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Promoting gender equality in Zimbabwe reduces the issue of girls being married off at an early age. Zimbabwe has managed to increase and offer opportunities to women in the national parliament. In the past years, most women did not occupy such positions. An increase of 31,5% reveals that women now participate in governance arena and are accorded the same status as men. Women’s representation in Parliament more than doubled from 17 percent following the 2008 general elections, to 35 percent in the elections on 31 July 2013.

Another strength that Zimbabwe possesses is in climate action. This is noted in the CO2 emissions from energy that are very low 0, 7%. More so, increased climate change variability in Zimbabwe is very low as compared to countries in the developed world. These developed countries pollute the atmosphere more as compared to Zimbabwe.

• There should be a strong, effective and collaborative partnership among the government of Zimbabwe, the private and public sectors citizens as well as stakeholders. This will enable SDGs to be successfully accomplished by the year 2030.
• Alleviating the ethnic bigotry, which has boosted the acts of corruption in the country. Corrupt officials hide behind ethnicity to defraud the nation.
• Political stability must be strengthened by developing a culture positive leadership through political and administrative leadership anchored on rule of law, administrative competence, accountability and good governance.
• The Government of Zimbabwe including all stakeholders who are working towards SDGs achievement in Zimbabwe should see investment in sustainable solutions that are aimed at addressing weakness of the country that include food security, malnutrition, and undernourishment and increased stunted growth.
• Since infrastructure networks plays a fundamental role in a country’s development, the Government of Zimbabwe should consider rehabilitating its infrastructure including national grids, buildings, railways ,airports, water and sanitation supply. This will enable Zimbabwe to attain Goal 9.
• Since energy is a problem, there is a need to engage in the production and full utilisation of biofuels and also introduction of energy efficiency programmes that may open up opportunities for research into solar energy potentials and other forms.
• There is a need to create and initiate national programmes on sanitation that eliminate defecation and also increasing the enforcement of regulations that are related to public health and environment.
• Communication and advocacy should be given a higher priority during the implementation of the SDGs. This will in turn aid all stakeholders including Government of Zimbabwe to take part in the contributing to achievement of SDGs.
• Monitoring and Evaluation strategies as well as financing implementation related to SDGs should be given high priority.

Zimbabwe’s implementation of the SDGs remains a challenge. The Zimbabwean economy continues to operate under huge current account deficits, the Agricultural sector and manufacturing sector have declined including the health sector. This, therefore, calls for the Government to take appropriate corrective action as soon as possible in order for the country to achieve Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030.
Cite This Article As: Mthandazo Khumalo. "Strengths and Weaknesses of Zimbabwe as viewed by Sustainable Development Goals ." International Youth Journal, 05. June 2018.

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