Written 1996


Organisation of Rural Associations for Progress

P.O. Box 877
16 Boone Ave
Richmond, Bulawayo
Fax: 263-931088


The Organization of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP) was founded in 1981 by a small group of people from Matabeleland Province of Zimbabwe led by Mrs. Sithembiso Nyoni. Since then, it has worked as a grassroots organization in the rural provinces of Matabelelena and the Midlands. These areas are among the least developed communal lands in Zimbabawe primarily due to climatic conditions and a weak natural resource base. The areas were also subjected to political instability during the civil war in the 80s. Communities are dependent on subsistence farming and livestock for their livelihood. ORAP has worked to encourage self-reliant development among rural people. It has a membership of 1.5 million people.

sithembiso Nyoni


ORAP's philosophy is based on the premise that rural people are poor because they have been dispossessed of their traditional knowledge, language and way of life. Its approach to development is based on concepts of Ziqoqe (mobilize yourself), Zenzele (do it yourself), Ziqhatshe (be self employed), Zimele (be self-reliant) an Qogelela (save/invest or collective saving). The concepts originate from people's own practices rooted in their language and culture.


ORAP exists to fight all forms of poverty, principally among the rural communities through the empowerment of people by facilitating their development in their cultural context. However, being aware of the growing phenomenon of urban poverty, ORAP will respond in the same way to needs in urban areas as resources permit.


ORAP envisions empowered grassroots communities free of hunger and poverty. The disadvantaged communities should draw up their own plans and uplift themselves relying mainly on their own intellect and resources.



Employment and Greater Self-reliance: To make rural people aware of their needs, development problems and how to overcome these problems through self-help. To encourage rural people to engage in Income Generating Projects for self-employment

Encourage Grassroots Program Development To facilitate local level prefect identifications, planning and implementation, formulation of development programs at various levels of ORAP

Autonomy and Management Efficiency Promote economic and financial autonomy and develop human resources and institutional development at all levels of ORAP. Improve development management, training and social organization Promote efficient use of resources. Develop social services and facilities. Promote democracy and transparency. To introduce and promote environmental and economically sound infrastructure technologies and agricultural practices at the community level.


Social mobilization is the key process used by ORAP to achieve development objectives of its constituency. The mobilization is grounded in a coherent program structure and supported by efforts in institutional and human capacity building. Programs such as employment creation will rely in the effectiveness of the mobilization program. In mobilizing communal people around development work, women and children remain centrally involved because rural women are the primary actors in the mobilization and development process.

Program areas fall under three Divisions: Social Programs, Small Business Division, Training and Education Services. The Secretariat comprises all institutional back-up services.

Social Programs Division:

This division is composed of the following programs structured in units: Association Activities (mobilization), Women and Family care program, Food Security and Environment, Water Resources and Development and Technical Services Program.

The division is responsible for example:

the development of rural network based on family units and rural associations promoting the economic and social position of women supporting agricultural projects (food security, drinking water, etc.) encouraging environmental sustainable development.

Small Business Division

This division has two program areas: Credit and Savings, and Business Advisory Services and Promotion. The division assists people with loans for income generating activities and employment creation as a way of alleviating poverty.

Training and Education Services Division

This division entail the Training Program and Education Services Program, Responsibilities in this area include building training facilities, upgrading skills of ORAP staff and the movement and assisting with educating ORAP membership children through the provision of scholarships.


Support services include: Planning, Information and Research, Finance, Executive Coordinator (Fundraising and Public Relations), Administration, Internal Audit and the Personnel units. ORAP is also trying to create means of economic sustainability of itself and its projects through the establishment of big business enterprises. These include a Hardware Store, Wholesale Shop, a Garage and a Farm which fall under Economic Programs. The Businesses are run separately from ORAP the movement.


ORAP is organized as a multi-tier structure which begins with the Family Unit. This is the primary level of organization into which neighboring household organize themselves. The Family Unite debates development issues affecting it and proposes solutions. Between 10 to 25 family units form a group. Five or more groups form an umbrella which brings together experiences of the groups and these are raised and discussed. The heights structure at district level is the association representing all umbrellas. The Executives of the associations for the Advisory Board and together with ORAP staff are the governing body for the movement. The Executive Committee which employs more than 100 people manages the overall administrative and financial matters of ORAP, provides and mobilizes technical assistance for the associations and lower tiers, undertakes technical planning, engages in strategic planning, mobilizes finance and the public relations and information-sharing requirements of the organization.

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Written 1996