Lesotho + 5 more

Southern Africa Humanitarian Crisis: Situation Report 19 Dec 2002

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Posted
Originally published
(Reporting period 1 December - 19 December)
Key Updates

The WFP EMOP is now 61.5% funded. There remains a shortfall of US$195 million.

The December pipelines for Zambia and Zimbabwe remain fragile but look a little healthier from January onwards.

Zambia's food aid pipeline for December faces a potential breakage.

DFID and WFP signed a MOU on 13 December for US$1.7 million that will enable WFP to meet its maize requirements for the Zambia pipeline for December.

Pipeline Update

The WFP EMOP is now 61.5% funded with a shortfall through March 2003 of approximately US$195 million. The new contributions include: Japan US$9.1 million, ADB US$4 million, Australia US$1.4 million and Malaysia US$ 100,000.

The short-term food situation in the region presents a mixed picture. The short-term prospects for Zambia and Zimbabwe are extremely worrying. In Zambia, expected food arrivals for December are in the region of 25,000MT, against a monthly requirement of 33,000MT (76%). None of these commodities are expected to arrive before mid-December, leaving only approximately 5,000MT of in-country stocks for the first two weeks of the month (30%). The remaining two weeks of December will depend on the swift delivery of recently purchased cereals from Tanzania and South Africa, and, specifically, on WFP's rapid completion of transport contracts and the Zambian government's fast issuance of import permits. Even if these supplies do arrive in the third or fourth weeks of December, the impact of a 2-3 week break for most beneficiaries, combined with the cumulative effect of the past months' minimal distributions, could be very serious at this critical point in the hungry season. For Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique, the WFP food pipeline looks relatively comfortable, at least until February 2003.

Looking beyond immediate needs, additional resources will be required for all six countries to boost the EMOP until end of March 2003.

HIV/AIDS

Steven Lewis, HIV/AIDS Special Envoy for the UN Secretary General, travelled to the region on 30 November to launch a UNAIDS epidemiological report giving the latest HIV/AIDS figures. The report is available on www.unaids.org/worldaidsday/2002/press/Epiupdate.html . The report highlights how the impact of HIV/AIDS goes beyond the direct issues of loss of life and health care costs associated with it.

Earlier in the month, at a Regional Summit organised by UNAIDS and held in Johannesburg on 6-7 November, UNDP Resident Co-ordinator and Chairperson of the HIV/AIDS Theme Group in South Africa, Mr John Ohiorhenuan, emphasized that the problems of HIV/AIDS, the food crisis, and other humanitarian problems in southern Africa were inter-related, and represent a vicious cycle that calls for a more comprehensive response to the crisis.

Country Issues

Zimbabwe

The economic situation continues to deteriorate. Fuel shortages at the pumps have reached critical levels, with long queues evident in the hope of a fuel delivery.

WFP reports that the GoZ appears to be increasingly flexible in its attitude to the milling of GM maize in country. Last week, permission was granted to mill remaining stocks in country at the national foods plants in Bulawayo and Gweru. The decision was extended to include 17,500MT already in storage at Durban.

Following a meeting between WFP and GoZ on the 16 December, it would appear that the GoZ is now willing to consider allowing the National Foods Mill in Harare to be brought on stream for WFP. The Harare plant would add an additional milling capacity of 22,000MT per month. An indication was also given that permission could be granted for more GM stocks to be imported for milling. However, the GoZ's preference for milling in South Africa remains. Long delays are still reported in the granting of import licences and in inspections. The 7,800MT of GM maize meal which had been rejected by the Zambian authorities and earmarked for Zimbabwe has been diverted to Malawi following an intractable delay in the granting of an import permit. Notwithstanding the apparent shift in stance by the GoZ, the situation will not improve in time to repair the December pipeline.

Health:

Vaccines are urgently required in country. The re-supply of vaccines is being hampered by an ongoing lack of co-ordination between WHO and UNICEF. Both agencies have submitted a proposal to ECHO for the supplies. Agreement on who will take the lead in this area and the most effective way of bringing forward supplies is critical at this time.

Zambia

A total of approximately 10,303MT has been delivered to NGOs since the beginning of December. During the month of September, WFP received 5491MT of maize. In October this increased to 7220MT. The November figure fell to less than 5000MT despite a forecast of 13,500MT. WFP Zambia reported that this was largely as a consequence of lack of transport from South Africa to Zambia.

Above normal rainfall was confirmed in Copperbelt Province and parts of central and south-eastern Zambia. The southern region looks set to continue with less than average rainfall. Worryingly, the official weather forecast remains unclear for the critical months of January and February 2003, when the maize crop is tussling and grain is filling.

Lesotho

WFP is planning to broaden the definition for its vulnerable caseload of beneficiaries, which would include families with children under five and elderly persons from the age of sixty. But it does not plan to distribute food in urban areas, given the potential for encouraging migration, and reports that coping strategies to deal with food shortfalls are far stronger than in rural areas.

Malawi

Total food receipts for last week were 8,985MT and the total amount of food dispatched was 10,175MT. WFP stock levels now stand at 27,330MT. Currently, the only break in the pipeline is a shortage of Corn Soya Blend. Pre-positioning of maize in preparation for heavy rains has begun using NFRA white maize. The expanded school feeding programme covered under the current EMOP will start in January 2003, targeting 110,000 children in five districts: Lilongwe; Salima; Ntcheu; Mangochi; Kasungu. This increases the national school feeding programme coverage to 160,000 children in 201 schools.

The Government of Malawi has agreed contracts for the importation of 360,000t of maize. 167,000t has been imported so far. The EC and the GoM have agreed in principal to loan some commercial stocks to the WFP to ensure that the humanitarian pipeline remains constant. The loan of 10,000t of maize from NFRA to WFP is being approved.

Health

Incidences of suspected cases of cholera were experienced from 9-15 December 2002, with Salima district reporting 15 cases, Manghochi 4 and Nkhatabay 2. Consequently, the Ministry of Health and Population Services (MoHP), through the Cholera Task Force, has launched a campaign on "Stop Cholera in Malawi". The campaign intends to reach all the 26 cholera-prone districts in the country. UNICEF, as a key member of the Cholera Task Force, has produced communication packages, including billboards, posters and other printed materials to support the campaign.

A Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS needs vulnerability assessment is currently being conducted. This is a continuation of the health assessment carried out in September 2002.

Angola

The humanitarian situation in Angola remains serious and widespread. Since the cease-fire, already over-stretched aid agencies have been able to access thousands more severely malnourished people. The 2003 UN CAP states that 4.3 million Angolans depend on some form of humanitarian assistance. However, humanitarian agencies are still unable to reach 200,000 people and 40% of the countryside.

Despite indications of improved food availability in large areas of the country, the latest Vulnerability Assessment carried out by the World Food Programme over the past few months, estimates that between 2.1 and 2.4 million Angolans will need food aid until the next harvest in April and May 2003. DFID have recently pledged =A32 million for food assistance and are making every effort to release the funds immediately.

Mine incidents, poor road conditions and broken bridges continue to hamper the delivery of humanitarian assistance. DFID has pledged =A3750,000 to the WFP for logistical support, to improve the delivery of food to vulnerable populations. We have also contributed =A3300,000 to UNDP for a project aimed at improving the effectiveness of mine action through strengthened coordination and planning and we will be contributing 19.7% of the 6 million euros which the EC has recently made available for mine action in Angola.

We are also contributing =A3500,000 to OCHA's Emergency response fund, to help meet critical needs of the most vulnerable, and =A3200,000 to support their humanitarian coordination structure, which is critical for the effective functioning of the overall humanitarian operation in Angola.

Mozambique

WFP gave food aid assistance to almost 250,000 people in November, an increase on October figures (190,000), but still well below their target of 440,000. The updated WFP implementation strategy gives an even higher target figure of 587,500, which seem somewhat unrealistic. Constraints continue to be the lack of strong implementing partners, the strength of the pipeline itself (competing with regional demands), availability of transport, and access.

No rainfall in large parts of the southern and central regions of Mozambique are compromising the planting of seeds that rural farmers had initiated last month. Many seeds may be lost without rainfall in the upcoming weeks.

Swaziland

The overall humanitarian prognosis for 2003, based on these early agricultural indicators alone is poor. Unless rainfall over the coming months is unusually abundant (unlikely given forecasts for a dry El Nino effect), it is hard to predict that the next harvest will even reach the depleted levels of the 2002 yield. It is critical, therefore, that all humanitarian stakeholders start now to plan against possible emergency scenarios for the post-harvest period after March 2003. WFP's food relief EMOP in Swaziland proceeds with the luxury of a full food pipeline until the end of March 2003. Initial caseload from July to November 2002 was cited as 144,000, based on the original crop assessment mission. In December 2002, based on the September VAC assessment, this was increased to 265,400.

Health

Recent surveys have, ironically, brought all too little constructive attention to the rampant scale of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Swaziland, and the shocking mid-term prospects for the country in terms of the disease's impact on society, the economy, agriculture, social networks, coping mechanisms and almost all factors that underscore the population's welfare. In 1992, sentinel surveillance of pre-natal mothers indicated a 3.9% prevalence rate. In 2002, this has soared to 38.6%. Amongst pregnant women aged 15-19, prevalence stands at 32%. From age 20-24, it stands at 45%, and from 25-29, at 47%.

Background

In the worst-affected countries, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, drought has created food shortages that have come on top of a poor season last year, and people's coping mechanisms have already been severely stretched. Poor governance has played a major role in the shortages, particularly in Zimbabwe, where lack of inputs for small holder agriculture, and the ruling party's disastrous economic and land policies, have both caused shortages and undercut survival strategies. Throughout the region HIV/AIDS has weakened families' and individuals' capacity to cope with additional stress.

Gross Requirements December 2002-March 2003

Country
Gross Total (MT)
EMOP
Zimbabwe
370,904
217,901
Malawi
253,743
173,609
Zambia
206,269
79,313
Mozambique
45,031
31,560
Lesotho
45,522
32,143
Swaziland
20,596
16,078
Gross Total (MT)
942,066
550,603

Estimated Requirements April-June 2003

Country
Gross Total (MT)
Zimbabwe
119,505
Malawi
98,662
Zambia
49,242
Mozambique
8,738
Lesotho
35,018
Swaziland
3,521
Gross Total (MT)
314,585

SOUTHERN AFRICA FOOD CRISIS: UK RESPONSE

DFID has played a leading role in responding to the crisis. DFID's bilateral support has been channelled through a range of UN agencies, Red Cross and NGOs. The UK is the third largest donor to the Southern Africa crisis after the USA and European Community. The UK also provides 19% of the EC's responses to the humanitarian crisis - approx. =A321.42m. (excluding Angola). The principle objective of DFID's humanitarian regional strategy for Southern Africa is to support efforts that enable vulnerable people to survive and cope through the provision of life saving services and goods, while seeking to establish the basis for recovery activities that promote sustainable development.