Evaluation and Learning Unit of the Stopping Abuse and Female Exploitation programme

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most common human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most reported form of gender-based violence (GBV) in Zimbabwe. According to national statistics, 35% of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 across the country have experienced physical or sexual violence from a spouse and 37% of these have experienced physical injury as a result of this violence. Zimbabwe is also one of the world’s 44 hot spots of child marriage: a third of Zimbabwean women reported having been married before the age of 18.

To address this, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has funded the four-year Stopping Abuse and Female Exploitation (SAFE) programme. SAFE aims to protect women and girls in Zimbabwe from the most severe forms of GBV – IPV in particular – as well as other forms of GBV such as child marriage, in the districts of Chiredzi, Chikomba and Mwenezi.

We are leading the SAFE Evaluation and Learning Unit (ELU), a key component of the programme that works alongside SAFE Communities, the implementation consortium, to strengthen the evidence on what works to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls.

The aim of ELU is to:

  • Test the effectiveness and impact of the SAFE programme;
  • Inform its adaption;
  • Optimise its delivery to maximise the impact of interventions; and
  • Help to explain what works, why and how, and use this learning to contribute to the national and global evidence base on preventing GBV.

Through the ELU, we support learning for adaptation, evaluate the impact of SAFE and provide recommendations on scaling up the intervention if found to be effective and impactful. This is achieved by conducting a baseline study as well as a summative evaluation. We are also undertaking a series of qualitative deep dive research studies over the life of the programme. Two of these studies are geared towards tracking SAFE participants over time to measure the effectiveness of SAFE, its impact on IPV as well as other outcomes outlined in the programme’s theory of change.



Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, UK

Learning products


Our team’s learning products measure the effectiveness of the SAFE programme while informing its ongoing delivery and adaptation. The most recent resources can be found below.

This policy and programme brief presents key findings and recommendations from the baseline evaluation of SAFE, conducted by the Evaluation and Learning Unit. The brief is targeted towards researchers, practitioners, government stakeholders, policy makers and donors working on the prevention of VAWG in Zimbabwe.

Deep Dive 1 focused on the social and gender norms that drive – and may also prevent – the perpetration of GBV in SAFE intervention districts and employed two core study methods:

  • In-depth interviews with community members, with the sample disaggregated by gender (women and men) and age (18-24, and 25+), and a sample of IDIs with women living with HIV/AIDS; and
  • Key informant interviews with local community leaders, members of NGOs and local government.

A vignette approach was used to gather information from participants using a fictional story about a couple and asked them their views and perceptions about a series of hypothetical situations. These views were framed around how typical the fictional story and complementing scenarios were in participants’ own communities. Interviews explored perceptions within target communities about the perpetration of GBV, including IPV and early marriage.

This learning brief summarises the key findings and recommendations from the study.

This research brief presents key findings from the quantitative and qualitative baseline evaluation carried out in three districts across Zimbabwe: Chiredzi, Chikomba and Mwenezi.

Targeted towards researchers and practitioners working on the prevention of gender-based violence in Zimbabwe, the brief gives insights into the factors that drive intimate partner conflict and violence.

This practice brief outlines six lessons our team on the SAFE Evaluation and Learing Unit identified following a qualitative study on reducing household economic stress through Internal Savings and Lending groups (ISALs).

These lessons play a key role in strengthening the evidence base on what works to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe, and could also be of benefit to other practitioners working with ISALs.