Sightsavers in Zimbabwe

We work with the government and partners in Zimbabwe and across Africa to provide inclusive eye care, protect communities from trachoma and ensure people with disabilities can thrive.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa with a turbulent past.

Despite high rates of inflation, the country’s economy is slowly growing thanks to its rich natural resources. Many people in Zimbabwe are employed in agricultural or mining work, and the country’s main exports include precious stones, metals and minerals, cotton and tobacco.

In the 1980s, the government established a universal health care system. But after years of economic turmoil and budget cuts, it lacks basic medicines and qualified staff, leading those who can afford it to use private health care.

Zimbabwe is taking strides to address social stigma and discrimination around disability. President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the country’s national disability policy in June 2021, which aims to improve life for people with disabilities.

Facts about Zimbabwe

  • Population: 15 million
  • Capital: Harare
  • Official languages: Shona, English and 14 others
  • Human development index (HDI) ranking: 146 (medium)

There are only 27 ophthalmologists in Zimbabwe

Trachoma is most prevalent in rural areas of the country

11% of people are thought to have a disability

Sources: IAPB,
Ophthalmic Epidemiology, Disability Data Portal

Grasslands in Mashonaland, Zimbabwe.

What are the challenges in Zimbabwe, and how can these be addressed?

Grasslands in Mashonaland, Zimbabwe.

Eye care

Zimbabwe’s health care system lacks skilled staff and essential resources.

Many of Zimbabwe’s health care staff have emigrated, causing chronic staffing shortages in the sector. Sightsavers’ charity work in the country aims to develop a sustainable eye health service that can help prevent blindness and disability.

A group of children line up to have their eyes checked by a health worker.

Our eye care work in Zimbabwe

Inclusive eye care

With our partners, we run an inclusive eye care programme in the Matabeleland provinces. The project aims to screen 65,000 people by 2024.
About common eye conditions

Training staff

Recruiting and training eye care workers helps to fill staffing gaps in the national eye care service, ensuring people can be treated more quickly.
Learn about eye health roles

Screening for trachoma

Our eye health staff travel to remote areas of the country to assess and treat people for trachoma, helping to ensure everyone can access eye care.
Meet nurse Jeremiah

Infectious diseases

People in Zimbabwe are at high risk of catching painful, debilitating diseases.

Trachoma, river blindness, schistosomiasis and intestinal worms are all endemic in the country. Our work on neglected tropical diseases in Zimbabwe focuses on treating and preventing trachoma.

Ophthalmic nurse Jeremiah Gwafa and a colleague hand medication to an elderly male patient.

How we’re tackling disease in Zimbabwe

Tackling trachoma

Sightsavers helps co-ordinate the Zimbabwe Accelerate Trachoma Elimination Programme, which aims to eliminate trachoma as a public health issue by 2030.
Learn about trachoma

Hygiene programmes

We help to implement the World Health Organization’s SAFE strategy across Zimbabwe to help control and eliminate trachoma in local communities.
About the SAFE strategy


We’re using innovative mobile technology to track trachoma and ensure communities are protected from the disease through effective treatment programmes.
How we use technology

Inclusion and equality

People with disabilities in Zimbabwe often struggle to claim their human rights.

Social stigma and discrimination around disability prevent people from accessing opportunities equally. Our charity work on disability rights in Zimbabwe focuses on improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Ophthalmic nurse Jeremiah Gwafa smiles as he stands next to a local community member.

Our inclusion work in Zimbabwe

Training and work

Our employment programme supports people with disabilities to find a job or start their own business, helping them develop their skills and gain experience.
About inclusive employment

Championing women

We promote inclusive employment in Zimbabwe by focusing on improving opportunities for women and girls with disabilities, so they can earn a living and fulfil their potential alongside men.

Family planning

We support inclusive family planning services so everyone, particularly women and girls with disabilities, can make informed decisions about their health.
Our family planning work

A man smiles, wearing a yellow Sightsavers tshirt.

“It makes me very happy to see a child with trachoma being treated, because I know the impact it will have on their life, wellbeing and welfare.”

A man smiles, wearing a yellow Sightsavers tshirt.
Ophthalmic nurse Givemore

How you can help

Our charity work in Zimbabwe helps protect people from trachoma, but there’s still more we need to do.

With your support, we want to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem in the country by 2030 and ensure quality eye care services are available for everyone. To do this, we need your help.

Charity donations, legacies, corporate partnerships and gifts from charitable foundations are a vital source of funding for our programmes in Zimbabwe. We also welcome opportunities to work in partnership with governments, institutions and development organisations.

Contact us: If you have any questions about our work in Zimbabwe, would like more details about our programmes or how you can donate or support us, email [email protected]

Latest stories from Zimbabwe

A man smiles while people walk in the background.
Sightsavers stories

“The best part of my job is seeing someone’s life transformed”

Ophthalmic nurse Jeremiah Gwafa was first inspired to work in eye health as a child, after seeing the impact of blindness on his own family.

African Renaissance Monument is lit up in honour of World NTD Day.

World NTD Day 2021: highlights from around the world

On 30 January 2021, Sightsavers joined global celebrations to mark the fight against neglected tropical diseases.

February 2021
Emmanuel Nyamkeen measures a woman's height to determine how much medication to give her.
News /

October 2019 updates: highlights from around the world

In Nigeria, an eye health volunteer has been rewarded for helping to prevent river blindness for more than 20 years. Plus news from Zimbabwe, Ghana and Mali.

October 2019
Eye health workers in Ethiopia gather data using mobile phone.
Sightsavers blog

Cracking the code: using technology to improve mass drug administration in Zimbabwe

Sightsavers' Sarah Bartlett explains how technology – in various forms – helps us to keep track of the complex logistics involved with large trachoma treatment campaigns.

Sarah Bartlett, October 2019
Someone on crutches shakes a man's hand.
Sightsavers blog

Including people with disabilities in African political life

Our research shows that a lack of education and financial resources, social stigma and inaccessible physical infrastructure mean fewer people with disabilities are participating in politics in Africa.

Bhavisha Virendrakumar, October 2019
Sarita Choure at the judo championships.
News /

September 2019 nupdates: highlights from around the world

News from India, featuring a Sightsavers-supported judoka who won a bronze medal at a Commonwealth competition. Plus the latest from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia.

September 2019

Discover where Sightsavers works in Africa and Asia

Where we work