UN Central Emergency Response Fund allocates $9 million to bolster aid programmes in Zimbabwe

(Harare: 22 July) - The United Nations (UN) Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), John Holmes, has allocated some US$9 million to boost the humanitarian response in Zimbabwe.

Humanitarian actors in Zimbabwe will receive $9 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) through the most recent under-funded emergencies round. With this allocation, Zimbabwe becomes the highest recipient of CERF funding in 2009. This is the third CERF allocation for Zimbabwe this year raising the total to $26.9 million for humanitarian actors to carry out and continue essential emergency operations. The CERF funds will be apportioned by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to priority lifesaving programmes, as identified by UN humanitarian agencies, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and their NGO partners.

"The additional funding will augment the humanitarian community's efforts in support of the Government of Zimbabwe to alleviate the suffering of many Zimbabweans. In the past, the CERF contributed to saving lives by containing the cholera outbreak, providing food to vulnerable populations and supporting vital social services including health and education at a critical point in the country's history, said Dr. Agostinho Zacarias, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) for Zimbabwe.

On 30 January, CERF allocated some $7.8 million to help the Zimbabwean authorities and UN agencies to implement a number of urgently-needed programmes to combat cholera. Through the Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), UN agencies and their humanitarian partners have requested a total of $ 718 million to support those in need in Zimbabwe in 2009, but to date only 47% of the appeal is funded.

The overall humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe remains acute. The country's humanitarian needs include six million people with limited or no access to safe water and sanitation in rural and urban areas; an estimated 2.8 million in need of food aid at the peak of 2009/10 lean season; 1.5 million children requiring support to access education and 800,000 people in need of food aid Safety Net (SN) programmes. Currently, the country has 22,000 children under five years in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition, although the number may shoot up to 44,000 if left unchecked. In addition, challenges of poverty, malnutrition and unemployment among others prevail, hence the urgent need for financial support to help efforts to rebuild the country's capacity. High vulnerability levels, coupled with one of the world's highest HIV infection rates of 15.6%, deepen the population's vulnerability.

The allocation to Zimbabwe is part of the $55 million announced by Holmes today to boost the humanitarian response in 11 neglected emergencies where people are facing crises such as hunger, malnutrition, disease and conflict. This is the second and final round of allocations from CERF's window for under-funded emergencies in 2009. The first round allocated some $75 million to 14 countries. In 2008, a total of $128 million was allocated to under-funded emergencies. Since 2006, the CERF has provided over $383 million to chronically neglected crises.

CERF is funded by voluntary contributions from Member States, non-governmental organisations, local governments, the private sector and individual donors. This year, the donors pledged nearly $390 million in support of the Fund. As mandated by the General Assembly, CERF commits one-third of all funds each year to redress imbalances in the global aid distribution by supporting neglected crises. CERF was established in 2006 to help agencies respond rapidly to new or deteriorating humanitarian situations. Since its establishment, more than 100 Member States and private sector donors have contributed $1.5 billion to CERF, which is administered by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Fund has disbursed over $1.1 billion to help millions of victims of natural disasters and conflict in some 70 countries.

For further information, please call:

Stephanie Bunker, OCHA-New York, +1 917 367 5126, mobile +1917 892 1679, bunker@un.org; Nicholas Reader +1 212 963 4961, mobile +1 646 752 3117, reader@un.org;

Elisabeth Byrs OCHA-Geneva, +41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570, byrs@un.org.

OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.

For more information about CERF, please see http://cerf.un.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.