Save the Children Alliance appeals for US$26 million

from Save the Children
Published on 06 Aug 2002
Around 14 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the food insecurity crisis that is spreading across southern Africa. The International Save the Children Alliance is launching an appeal to provide a long-term, targeted response in Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe
The impact of the crisis

Since November of last year a devastating combination of poverty, HIV/AIDs, poor weather, political upheaval and economic collapse has led to widespread food shortages across Southern Africa. Prices of the staple foods have skyrocketed leaving the poorest in society unable to buy food for themselves or their families. In Malawi this has led to hundreds if not thousands of people dying of starvation, while in Angola the end of the war has enabled access for relief organisations to newly accessible areas where disease and hunger related deaths are commonplace.

In Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia this year's main harvest came in June, but stocks are already beginning to run out and prices are once again on the rise. Indicators such as child malnutrition rates and crop assessments show that famine is only a few weeks away if urgent action is not taken immediately. With hunger already having gripped the region before this harvest, many of the poorest have already sold everything they own and now are heavily reliant on the ability of their governments and the international community to feed them.

Rural livelihoods have been severely undermined in all of the affected countries and there has been a significant depletion of household assets, particularly in Malawi and Zimbabwe. Families have been forced to embrace damaging coping strategies where worsening poverty and high food prices have forced parents to stop sending their children to school, to reduce the number of daily meals and to limit access to health care.

The most critical food security problems are undoubtedly in Angola, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Severe malnutrition levels are particularly high in Angola and Malawi, however there are chronic levels of infant malnutrition across the region with Malawi, Zimbabwe and Lesotho having the highest incidence of wasting and stunting amongst children. There is a real spectre of widespread starvation in Zimbabwe unless food aid deliveries are radically improved. Zimbabwe requires nearly 60% of the food aid within the WFP regional appeal.

The humanitarian crisis in southern Africa has also exacerbated deteriorating access to basic service provision. Immunisation rates are declining in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland. Malawi experienced a serious cholera outbreak in the first quarter of 2002. Water maintenance in Zimbabwe and Malawi are in sharp decline. Public health indicators are poor across the region and the worsening food shortages are raising infant mortality rates.

Southern Africa has the highest HIV rates in the world. Life expectancy rates are plummeting in countries such as South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The orphan population in the region is about 3 million. This regional crisis comes at a time of acute vulnerability for families and communities whose safety nets and support structures are being destroyed by HIV. A poorly managed and under resourced international humanitarian programme in southern Africa will further undermine the capabilities of families, children and communities to cope with HIV.

The Save the Children Alliance response

Despite the generally slow start by international aid organisations and donors in responding to the crisis, Save the Children agencies have been prompt in tackling the most serious food problems in the region. Since the beginning of this year Save the Children has distributed food aid to over one million people across the region, and has been involved in large-scale health and family tracing programmes.

Save the Children has also been involved in lobbying governments and the UN system to mobilise the current relief effort, and has conducted household studies at the end of last year and the beginning of this year to highlight the worsening crisis.

Save the Children Denmark, Norway, Swaziland, Sweden, US and UK are active in food aid distributions, primary health care interventions, child protection, HIV/AIDs programmes, family tracing activities and education work.

International NGOs will play a critical role in responding to this crisis. The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to import over 1 million tonnes of food in the next 6 months into the southern Africa region. Agencies like Save the Children will be required to distribute this food and in many cases run the feeding centres and medical care that go along side.

Save the Children Needs

The Save the Children Alliance is in urgent need of additional funds to address the crisis. Details for individual countries are given below:

Angola - US$6,692,700

Save the Children currently provides humanitarian relief to around 60,000 people in two family and ex-combatant placement areas and one displaced person's camp, as well as providing supplementary feeding to malnourished children in Huambo and Caala towns. Save the Children works to reintegrate children affected by the war back into their communities, and supports the Ministry of Social Assistance and Reintegration in its national family tracing and reunification programme. Save the Children is also distributing emergency food in Kwanza Sul and Moxico Provinces, and is working to assist in the return and reintegration of the internally displaced in both provinces.

It's critical that Save the Children's family tracing, emergency health, nutrition and child protection work is rapidly scaled up. Equally urgent is funding to support resettlement work and demobilisation efforts, including reintegration work with demobilised child soldiers.

Lesotho - $928,500

Save the Children is currently supporting an evaluation of the food security situation in Lesotho and is facilitating an FAO-WFP crop assessment. Save the Children continues to monitor the food situation in the country and to provide regular food security information to support food aid programmes.

Funding is urgently needed to scale up the above programmes, to enable Save the Children to provide supplementary feeding as well as much-needed aid to orphans.

Malawi - US$8,778,500

Save the Children has been carrying out large-scale humanitarian food interventions in four districts in Malawi, as well as undertaking supplementary feeding for under-fives, and periodic nutrition surveys. Save the Children works closely with the WFP to distribute its food aid, and lobbies for appropriate food policy reform.

It's critical that Save the Children is sufficiently funded to step up its food aid and supplementary feeding programmes, as well as monitoring and responding to child protection issues. Support is needed to boost the organisation's emergency preparedness work, to increase its seed distribution network, to extend its emergency health support, and to expand upon the existing support it gives to orphans.

Mozambique - US$300,000

Save the Children is preparing its emergency response through a number of measures, including the provision of support to partners, collaborating on child protection training, monitoring the food security situation at the national level, monitoring population movements between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and advocating for a timely and adequate food pipeline.

Funding is imperative if Save the Children is able to engage in a comprehensive emergency health response, and to provide care to orphans. Save the Children is looking to appoint a co-ordinator to undertake border assessments and training in child protection.

South Africa - US$300,000

Save the Children is developing its emergency preparedness in the event of mass migration from Zimbabwe. Additional resources are needed to support work in the emergency health sector, to enhance the protection of migrating children and their families, and to provide help for orphans affected by the crisis.

Swaziland - US$300,000

Save the Children in Swaziland is in urgent need of funding to support its food aid programme in the low veld.

Zambia - US$505,000

An ongoing Save the Children assessment will recommend that technical assistance be provided to other organisations to conduct nutritional surveys. In addition to technical assistance, Save the Children plans to respond in the Southern Province with food aid to vulnerable families, and through seed distribution. Save the Children continues to develop its family tracing and child protection work in Zambia's refugee camps.

Zimbabwe - US$8,425,000

Internal displacement is likely to increase as food shortages worsen. Mass migration is also likely to occur if the radical land reform practices continue to displace farm workers and their families. This potential exodus will have a significant humanitarian impact on South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa and Botswana. Save the Children is undertaking intensive emergency preparedness planning in the neighbouring countries, and is actively monitoring cross-border migration in Mozambique.

Save the Children has been involved in a large-scale food aid programme in the Zambezi Valley region of western Zimbabwe, providing 50% of the population with food aid. The food security team has produced a number of nutrition surveys and vulnerability assessments, and has been involved in advocacy work around the vulnerability of farm workers in the current land reform programme. Save the Children has supported a training programme for local and international NGOs in emergency preparedness and response.

To help meet the escalating food needs in the region, Save the Children must increase its water and food aid programmes in the Zambezi valley, and looks to start up a food aid programme in Zvimba. Funding is also needed to support a new supplementary feeding programme, and a seed distribution programme. Increased funding would also provide much-needed support to the emergency health sector and to boost Save the Children's orphan care programme. Save the Children plans to feed children in schools connected to commercial farms through its local partner organisations. The programme is currently directed to pre-school children, but primary school children will be included if more funding is received. Finally, Save the Children plans to intervene in Chimanimani and Rushinga where the organisation is currently running education programmes.

Regional support - US$675,000

To ensure adequate management and logistical support to operations in the above countries, Save the Children will be strengthening its technical and advisory resources, including ongoing capacity building for emergency preparedness.

Save the Children Alliance agencies working in southern Africa are:

Angola - SC Denmark, SC Norway SC Sweden, SC UK, SC US
Zimbabwe - SC Norway, SC UK
Lesotho - SC UK
South Africa - SC Sweden, SC UK
Zambia - SC Norway, SC US
Mozambique - SC Norway, SC UK, SC US
Malawi - SC UK, SC US
Swaziland - SC Swaziland
Mauritius - SC Mauritius