In the 2011 United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) report, Zimbabwe is ranked 173 out of 187 countries. Although the ranking having increased by 7% from 2009 to 2011, it lays bellow the regional average.
The political situation in Zimbabwe remained tense throughout the year with partners in the unity government focusing efforts in the quest for a new constitution. This negatively affected the implementation of policies to grow the economy and as a result nothing meaningful was done to address the high unemployment especially that of young people.
Regarding the status of economy, the unsuccessful agriculture season 2011/12, especially in drought prone areas,affected greatly the growth indicators and resulted in families running out of food stocks impacting negatively in the rates of malnutrition. Food production in Zimbabwe is said to have fallen by 50% due to current socio-economic and political problems and the effects of droughts. In most cases children and women are the most affected. According to the National Vulnerability Assessment (ZimVAC) report, approximately 1.7 million people will require food assistance at the peak of Jan-March 2013. The most vulnerable being the southern provinces of Masvingo and Matabeleland. Children, especially girls, have been reported to engage in prostitution for survival while cases of crimes by young boys have also been on the increase. In some areas like Chiredzi, food shortage at home has resulted in more children dropping out of school and engaging in child labour activities.
The education sector has been on a rebound since 2009 but shortages of qualified teachers continue to affect the quality of education. On a positive note the availability of learning materials has improved with some schools now having 1:1 pupil text book ration as a result of the Education Transition Fund. However, challenges remain that hindered the attainment of quality education for children.
The reduction in funding from foreign donors to the HIV/AIDS cause will impact negatively on the gains achieved to date. The increasing poverty levels and high unemployment rates of over 80% expose young people to vulnerabilities of society such as drug abuse, prostitution, manipulation of young people by politicians among others. The economy remained largely informal making it difficult for government to collect revenue needed for social services. The lack of employment has affected the young people most as they no longer have prospects of living a decent life and most of them continue to join the track for greener pastures. This sad development is an enzyme for disaster in the background of civil unrest in the Arab world having been led by young people. A significant high number of Zimbabweans, particularly in rural areas and high density communities are still economically vulnerable and lack access to most basic services, including food, health, education, clean water and shelter.
Empowerment of women is severely under threat in communities were child marriages are rife. This also exposes young girls to HIV/AIDS and exploitation.According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2010/11, about 1 in 4 teenagers aged between15-19 have already begun child bearing. The same survey reported that about 92% of sexual active women are in formal or informal unions. This situation is a major concern for child rights defenders as it exposes girls and young women to the risk of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and sexual transmitted infections. The same survey indicated that about half of (48%) adolescents girls aged between 15-19 years have experienced physical or sexual violence perpetrated by their spouse. Efforts have been made by child rights organisations to push for more rights of children in the new constitution to curb the practice.
The government has not done enough to improve the operating environment for NGOs and Civil Society; rather they continue to reduce the space making it difficult to work especially those working in the human rights field.
Terre des hommes Germany assistance to Zimbabwean people dates back 33 years, having started assisting Zimbabwean refugees that had found refugee in neighboring countries. The Coordinating Office in Harare was officially registered with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in October 1992