The Amalima program, started in June of 2013 and scheduled to close in June of 2018, draws its name from the Ndebele word for the social contract by which families come together to help each other engage in productive activities such as land cultivation, livestock tending, and asset building. Amalima builds on existing communal initiatives in order to sustainably improve household food security and nutrition by strengthening access to and availability of food, community resilience to shocks, and nutrition and health among mothers and children in the districts of Tsholotsho (Matabeleland North), Bulilima, Gwanda and Mangwe (Matabeleland South). In order to achieve this objective, Amalima fosters women’s empowerment and gender equality as a crosscutting component to the program that underpins all activities.

The five-year, USAID Development Food Assistance Program (DFAP) will work with over 56,000 households, leveraging community-led approaches to increase agricultural productivity through conservation agriculture and livestock management trainings, land rehabilitation, water management, improved drought mitigation and adaptation. In addition, the project will enhance nutrition care practices and health-seeking behaviors by providing a combination of capacity building, training and mentoring, supplementary feeding rations and community-based messaging to achieve its expected results.

Program Approach:

  1. Improve access to, and availability of food: As part of its overall strategy for addressing food insecurity, Amalima promotes a shift from traditional maize cultivation to more drought tolerant small grain crops, conservation agriculture practices, and livestock production. Amalima emphasizes practical demonstrations to encourage adoption of improved agriculture and livestock production practices for the arid and drought-prone agro-ecological zones in which the project works. In addition to training, Amalima engages vulnerable households and communities into productive value chains using household asset vouchers to purchase productive assets such as goats and inputs, and utilizes matching grants to help producer groups scale-up production. This includes business management and technical training to agrodealers to improve the availability of and access to quality agro and veterinary inputs to farmers.
  2. Strengthen community resilience to shocks: Amalima partners with communities to improve livelihoods and build resilience by creating and/or strengthening disaster risk reduction (DRR) committees. The project supports community DRR plans with Cash for Assets activities that result in productive resources such as rehabilitated or new irrigation schemes, dip tanks, dams, and reclaimed land, and act as a strategy to get vital cash in the hands of vulnerable households. Amalima forms and supports village savings and lending (VS&L) groups to promote income generating activities and savings to build household resiliency. VS&L groups are trained to invest their savings in group enterprises such as poultry production, bee keeping, and sewing, which support livelihoods and increase savings.
  3. Improve nutrition and health: Amalima improves the dietary diversity and micro-nutrient intake of pregnant and lactating women and children under two by distributing supplementary feeding rations of corn-soy blend (CSB+) and fortified vegetable oil, while simultaneously enhancing nutrition care practices with a combination of capacity building, mentoring, and community-based messaging delivered through care groups and community health clubs. Through these groups, Amalima also encourages improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices such as the promotion of water purification technologies, proper hand washing, rehabilitation of water points at primary health clinics, and creation and training of community health clubs.
  4. Promote gender equality: Amalima fosters women’s empowerment and gender equality, seeking to empower women to play a key role in food security and resiliency at the household and community levels. The project leverages the social capital of Amalima collective action (most often applied by women) and builds on strong, trust-based relationships between women to promote improved practices, such as exclusive breastfeeding, Healthy Harvest community gardens, and VS&L groups. To support male inclusion, efforts are made to integrate men into health and nutrition outreach activities to encourage their increased support in household and child rearing activities. Amalima women’s groups, such as VS&L and Community Health Clubs, often decide to leverage their social and financial capital by expanding their objective to include income generating or productive activities (e.g. poultry production, horticulture garden). Through these efforts, Amalima supports women to have increased access to and control over incomes, and promote men and women to take increasingly equal responsibilities for both productive and reproductive activities.

Expected Impact


Households impacted by project initiatives and training


Individuals participating in agricultural sector productivity or food security training


Pregnant and lactating women and children under five receiving training and support

Visit from USAID/Zimbabwe

Mission Director, Stephanie Funk

On July 22 and 23, 2015 Amalima hosted the new USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director, Stephanie Funk, at the office for a presentation on the program and on a field visit to Gwanda district. The Mission Director and Amalima technical staff met with district government stakeholders, visited the Selonga garden Cash for Assets (CFA) irrigation scheme, and met with Community Health Club (CHC) members in Thibeli village. Amalima uses CFA as a strategy to get vital cash in the hands of vulnerable households in its target districts during the lean season, while contributing to community disaster risk reduction (DRR) and livelihoods opportunities by using that labor to produce a shared community asset as prioritized by the communities’ DRR plans. The Selonga DRR committee explained to the visitors that, upon completion, the irrigated garden will benefit farmers who were previously practicing stream bank cultivation along a nearby dam to irrigate their crops.

However, this practice came into conflict with the policies of the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), which sought to prevent siltation of the dam from poor agricultural practices and uncontrolled livestock activities close to the dam. The DRR committee identified the present site of the irrigation scheme as the location for a new garden where a siphon system is now being installed to draw water 1.5 km downstream of the dam. The development of Selonga irrigation scheme will have trifold effect on the community by preserving the surrounding environmental conditions and water quality, improving the agricultural productivity and food security, and enabling households to use their cash income to pay for food and agricultural inputs.