Improve Living Conditions in Zimbabwe

 Clean Drinking Water, Toilets and 10,000 Hygiene Ambassadors Improve Living Conditions in Zimbabwe

Hunger and unemployment shape everyday life in Zimbabwe. After almost 40 years under President Mugabe, the East African country’s once flourishing agriculture lies broken. Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) has joined forces with OTTO Österreich (Austria) and Welthungerhilfe, a German NGO for humanitarian aid, to realise a water and hygiene project in rural Zimbabwe. Started in 2015, the project aimed at supporting especially the rural citizens. The project has now successfully been completed. A total of 20 villages have gained access to clean drinking water, and schools have been fitted with urgently needed sanitary facilities.
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A supply of clean drinking water directly from the faucet is something we take for granted. In sub-Saharan Africa however, over 30% of the popula-tion has no access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Primarily women and girls spend a total of 40 billion hours per year fetching water. What is more, due to the frequent lack of adequate sanitary facilities at schools, older schoolgirls do not attend clas-ses during menstruation. “We at Cotton made in Africa have been working with the cotton company Alliance in rural Zimbabwe for years. The lack of access to clean drinking water and toilets is a major obstacle when it comes to improving living conditions. That is why, back in 2015, we initiated the project together with our partners OTTO Österreich and Welthungerhilfe,” explains Alexandra Perschau, Project Manager at Cotton made in Africa. The population in the Gokwe-South region is particularly affected by an in-sufficient water supply and poor sanitation: Around 60 percent have access to clean water and a mere 18 percent have access to adequate sanitary facilities.

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Sanitation facilities for girls and boys at school

In order to maximize the effectiveness of the project and ensure a long-term benefit, the local population was involved in the project and trained in hy-giene and clean drinking water. “One of our priorities was to train around 10,000 schoolchildren in 20 villages to become ‘hygiene ambassadors’. Their role is to make sure that the newly acquired knowledge is passed on to their village communities and families, even after the project has ended”, says Dr. Iris Schöninger, Policy Advisor at Welthungerhilfe.

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“On our way to using 100% sustainable cotton, we largely rely on the Cotton made in Africa label. In using CmiA certified cotton, we are protecting the environment, saving more than 500 liters of water per T-shirt, and support-ing the local communities. We are delighted that our joint water and sanita-tion project is providing access to clean water, especially for the girls and boys in the cotton growing regions,” says Harald Gutschi, spokesperson of the Management Board of OTTO Österreich.

Cotton made in Africa
Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) is an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) which was founded in 2005 by Dr. Michael Otto.  CmiA is the largest label for sustainable cotton from Africa, linking 780,000 cotton farmers in 10 African countries with the worldwide textile industry. The initiative trains smallholder cotton farmers in sustainable and modern cotton cultivation methods, thereby improving their living and working conditions, protecting the environment, and offering textile companies and brands a sustainable raw material for their textiles. Consumers can recognize Cotton made in Africa products by a little dark red label. In 2016, around 50 million textiles carried the CmiA label. For further information please visit

OTTO Österreich
OTTO Österreich is a company in the UNITO Group. Based in Salzburg and Graz, UNITO is a subsidiary of the Baur Group and thus member of the Otto Group. It employs 596 people and is based in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, South Tyrol, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. In  the 2016/17 finan-cial year, 341 million euro were generated in sales revenue.

Welthungerhilfe is one of the largest private humanitarian aid organizations in Germany with no political or religious affiliations. It is campaigning for “Zero Hunger by 2030”. Since its formation in 1962, it has funded more than 8,500 international projects in 70 countries, contributing a total of  3.27 billion euro. Welthungerhilfe works on the basic principle of helping people help themselves, from emergency disaster relief and reconstruction to long-term development projects in partnership with national and international organizations.