Project Planning and Management (PPM) Approaches, Application and Zimbabwean social development


Project Planning and Management (PPM) Approaches, Application and Zimbabwean social development social work achievement – An analysis of the contestations of PPM approaches

Tatenda Goodman Nhapi

Harare, Zimbabwe


The paper examines Zimbabwean theoretical and empirical Social work literature focusing on the trajectory of Social work transformation from being remedial to be developmental aided by Project Planning and Management (PPM) Approaches. The paper problematizes PPM approaches when harnessed in social work interventions reduce social work to be more obsessed with quantifiably objective indicators than the focus on social work’s subject matter, human dignity and enhanced social functioning. The paper contends that although evidence based practice has become prominent in current social work thinking which is also dovetailed by PPM approaches, the lifeworlds and interventions of service users benefitting from social work and PPM approaches need comprehensive explanation beyond Log Frame and other PPM toolkits.

The paper illustrates its arguments by examining Social Work oriented projects rolled out in Zimbabwe like the National Action Plan for OVCs, studies on Volunteering and Social work. The  examined projects and studies projects are grounded in participatory Monitoring and Evaluation  and rights based approaches which are critical ingredients for projects achieving desired outcomes of social developmental  than remedial social work interventions. The paper concludes by offering concrete recommendations which can aid the blending of PPM and Social work in Zimbabwean developmental social work endeavours to guarantee that social work interventions  stays true to its calling of facilitating enhanced social functioning of Zimbabwean service users, unique as in their thumbprints.

Key words: lifeworlds, service users, social development, PPM

Background and Introduction

This paper examines the Zimbabwean social work landscape using the lens of PPM in endeavours for broad based social developmental approaches usage. Its analysis is embedded in examining selected Zimbabwean state and non-state actors child welfare, social development and youth projects and empirical studies by social work practitioners and scholars. Firstly, in conception of Social Work, the International Federation of Social Workers, (IFSW, 2015) notes global definition constructing it as practice-based profession and an academic discipline promoting social change and development, social cohesion, and peoples’ empowerment and liberation. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are embedded in social work.  Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledge, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing”. Social work’s most important contribution  perhaps is the consideration it gives to the human and social sides of development, essential in order to avoid high material and economic standards without consequent matches in human and social standards (Rwomire, 2011).

Within the Zimbabwean context social work is argued as having imported from the global North through her coloniser, Britain where the first social worker came through to the then Rhodesia in 1936.Since then Zimbabwe has been eventually trying to shed off the remedial social work nature of its British inspired social work which emphasises case work and individualised social work approaches targeting to address malfunctioning behaviour and social pathological challenges. Casework is done on a person-by-person basis, in situations where privacy is necessary in attending to individual problems, for example, in a hospice, a women’s shelter, or a drug rehabilitation centre (Rwomire, 2011).

However, scholars as Midgley and Osei Hwedie Kwaku have been prominent in advocating for a more social developmental social work approach embracing in African social work like in Zimbabwe. This emphasises communities led social development interventions which are bottom up and guarantee community ownership. Community development, it is carried out by groups of people who agree to undertake projects and programmes, largely voluntarily, for the benefit of their communities. The basic aim is to enhance the self-reliance of the community and its ability to maintain its growth (Rwomire, 2011). This thrust thus insists on accountability and participation and relies on a toolkit of different PPM approaches. PPM is one of the core courses for fulfilment of the requirements of the Bachelor of Social Work Honours offered at different institutions in Zimbabwe.

The articles objectives are three fold:

  1. To analyse selected   Zimbabwean empirical social work studies and harnessing of PPM for social development outcomes
  2. To explore potential social workers’ roles in balancing PPM demands and consideration of beneficiaries lifeworlds towards communities well-being outcomes
  3. To recommend potential strategies for social workers for enhanced PPM approaches harnessing for greater improvements of beneficiaries dignity and enhanced social functioning


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About the Author

Tatenda Goodman Nhapi

Harare, Zimbabwe



Tatenda Goodman Nhapi is a Zimbabwean possessing frontline social work experience. He has an interest and experience in social policy administration and social development having practised frontline Social Work both for state and non-state actors in the Zimbabwean context. His interests include applied social research, child welfare and social policy. At present, he is practising as a Social Worker for a UK Local authority. He holds a Bachelor of Science Honours Social Work University of Zimbabwe and in 2015 he graduated in the five European universities collaborative Masters programme, Erasmus Mundus Masters in Advanced Development Social Work. Email: [email protected]