By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Mia Seppo today 04 February 2022, met with the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) Heads of Commissions to pursue ways of collaboration between the two organizations. Seppo who was accompanied by three UNDP officials Tafadzwa Muringi, Takunda Make and Zeblon Takwa, wanted to understand the role of the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe and to further explore possibilities of working together.
ZCBC Heads of Commissions, led by the Conference’s Secretary General, Fr. Fradereck Chiromba, shared the work they do in the country that include development, humanitarian assistance, education, health, communication, justice and peace and areas of faith and national healing. UNDP heard that the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has structures that cascades to the grassroots making sure that no one is left behind in areas of development, human rights, education, health and all social concerns. The Church also expressed its intermediary role in government through its Parliamentary Liaison Office. ZCBC Heads of Commissions confirmed that the Church has had a long standing relationship with UNDP and would continue to partner the organization for purposes of development.
UNDP Resident Representative said they appreciate the partnership and purpose of the Church in responding to the needs of communities especially building resilience so that people cannot always rely on handouts, assisting the government in mitigating disasters and pandemics such as Covid-19. She said her organization is also focusing on strengthening access to ARVs, climate change, resilience building and policy space in dealing with Covid-19. She pointed out that UNDP finds collaboration with the Church very fruitful in bringing about solutions to issues that affect humanity. Seppo said faith leaders can play a very important role in healing communities and in bringing about peace and justice as well influencing the governance space.
“The church can help in dispelling misinformation and disinformation that incite violence and conflict in many situations and we are impressed by the work that the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe is doing in this regard,” said Seppo.
She also said across all UNDP programmes, there is a thrust for gender balance, women economic empowerment and supporting the youth through youth networks. Seppo applauded the Church for taking part in the fight against Gender Based Violence and called for a concerted effort in addressing issues of abuses of women and children.
“There is need to equip young people with skills so that they also contribute to the wellbeing of the country,” she said.