Lafarge Hands Over Mothers Waiting Shelter In Chimanimani

LAFARGE Zimbabwe has handed over a fourbed fully contained expectant motherswaiting shelter in Chikukwa Village, Chimanimani.

By Staff Reporter

This project is one of the two projects that the cement manufacturing firm contributed in response to the unfortunate occurrence of Cyclone Idai which left a trail of destruction in 2019. The waiting mother’s facility will service a sparse community of approximately 10000 people spanning across a 30km radius.

Speaking at the handover event, Larfarge Chief Executive Officer, Precious Nyika said they were fulfilling some pledges they made when the Cyclone Idai ravaged the Chimanimani community in 2019.

Among the needs listed for long term rebuilding in these communities, maternal health care was among the top priorities. In rural Zimbabwe, most health facilities are a long distance away from most households and in the absence of public transport, many expecting mothers have to go and rent lodgings at homes nearer to the clinic when their expected date of delivery is approaching.

“Alternatively, they have to travel in haste closer to the date posing a danger to their health and that of their unborn child. In the unexpected event of an emergency such as the cyclone, the women become even more vulnerable,” said Nyika. 

She added that the need for a waiting mother’s shelters therefore stood out as an important “building back better” intervention which would significantly improve maternity health services in Chimanimani.

“As suchLafarge in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care as well as the department of Public Works set out to construct a four bed waiting mother’s shelter in Chikukwa Village NorthEast of Chimanimani township.”

When Cyclone Idai hit the East and South Eastern part of Zimbabwe, the Government, corporates, and civil society rallied together to offer relief efforts. Lafarge Zimbabwe was also among the partners who came on board to offer immediate assistance.

“In a campaign dubbed “Lets Rebuild Chimanimani Together #buildingbackbetter”, Lafarge pledged to participate in the reconstruction of infrastructure and shelterin the affected communitiesas well as restoration of livelihoods. In the aftermath of the tragedy in Chimanimani, Lafarge identified one immediate need which would bekey for the rebuilding initiatives to be undertaken successfully.

“This was the need for skilled and semiskilled labour to assist in the various projects that were taking off. Under the #buildingbackbetter mantra, the objective was to replace the destroyed infrastructure with stronger, more resilient structures. As such, having the correct skills would aid the achievement of this objective,” added Nyika. 

Meanwhile, Lafarge has sponsored 110 young people from the affected communities to participate in a mason straining through which they were trained on basic construction skills. This was done in partnership with the Ministry of Youth as well as the Scientific Research Development Corporation.

“Following a five day training, the attendees were equipped to participate meaningfully in the various rebuilding projects.  Additionally, with these skills they were well positioned to continue to offer these services profitably post the disaster response period. The contractors who were given the major construction contracts sourced their labour from this pool of young people, enabling the youths to earn a decent income to recover better from the catastrophe of the cyclone”

“Following a call for partners, Lafarge assembled a group of businesses and individuals to engage in a charity fun run, which helped raise money for this initiative. This charity event raised a significant portion of the project’s material budget, while Lafarge provided all of the cement,aggregates, and other core materials and labour cost at a total project spend of ZWL1,6million.”

Lafarge is highly reputed for its deeprooted stance towards women empowerment initiatives and this project adds to its growing list of high impact programstargeted at women. In 2017 the company launched a young women empowerment programdubbed Shine Simuka Upenye which is characterized by lifeskills and vocational training.

To date 225 young women from Mabvuku and Tafara communities have gone through this program.The company also established a Business incubation center where the beneficiaries of the programand other willing members of the community can access the facility to establish their businesses. Internally the company has a programin place that attracts and retain more women in its workforce.

This program called STEP, provides support for women through protection policies and promotes a conducive work environment, extended time for breast feeding as well as health and wellness education. Additionally,the company provides a place for lactating mothers to safely and hygienically express their breast milk.. This has allowed the working mothers to balance exclusively breastfeeding their babies, while continuing to be productive at work

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