Lesotho + 4 more

Southern African Humanitarian Crisis Update - 24 February 2003

United Nations Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Support Office for the Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa.
Bi-monthly Update 24 February 2003

RIACSO provides support to the national efforts in addressing the Southern African crisis and ensures cohesion and complementarity of the effort at a regional level. In addition, RIACSO supports the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, Mr. James Morris, in his mandate to raise awareness of the situation, its underlying causes and to provide recommendations on how to strengthen the humanitarian response and mobilize donor support for the affected countries.


Launch of the MTR

On 14 February, the United Nations launched the Mid Term Review of the 2002/2003 Consolidated Appeal (CAP) for the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa, placing special emphasis on the urgent need for tens of millions of dollars in non-food items.

In the Mid Term Review, the United Nations reflects on the UN response provided over the last six months and analyses the most urgent outstanding needs for the remainder of the appeal period. The event provided the opportunity to thank the international community for its generous support so far and to appeal for its continued engagement.

In July 2002, the United Nations system, including WFP, FAO, OCHA, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and UNDP, in collaboration with implementing partners and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), launched a regional appeal for US$611 million - US$507 million for food and US$104 million for non-food items - to address the humanitarian needs of 12.8 million people in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland. The needs of vulnerable people in Mozambique were covered in the regional chapter of the appeal. The number of people in need was updated to 14.4 million following joint assessments conducted by the United Nations, SADC and national governments in August 2002. To date, the total response amounts to just under US$350 million - of which more than US$320 million has been for food.

According to the latest assessments, despite food and other assistance that has already saved countless lives, more than 15 million men, women and children remain extremely vulnerable in the region. "Not only does the UN need continued food donations over the next months, but to help get the region back onto its feet, we must see increased and immediate pledges for vital relief items such as water, sanitation and educational supplies, agricultural inputs and medicines to fight off disease, HIV/AIDS in particular, which is threatening to tear apart southern African societies," said Judith Lewis, Regional Coordinator for the UN Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in southern Africa.

Although the crisis has been stabilized somewhat by a quick and effective response from the donor community, the situation remains precarious across the region. In particular, the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating rapidly, while HIV/AIDS continues to wreak havoc all across southern Africa. The disease is preying specifically on women, who form the backbone of African society, acting as caregivers, farmers and breadwinners, leaving behind millions of orphans with little means to survive.

The United Nations increased its appeal to more than 670 million US dollars of which over 132 million US dollars for non-food items. The increase in assistance requested is to support the distribution of sourced food commodities as well as to strengthen interventions designed to address those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. (Download the full document at: www.reliefweb.org).

Progress due to relief efforts in Zambia

The just-completed review of the United Nations Consolidated Appeal for Zambia showed that since July, in collaboration with its non-Government implementing partners, the United Nations has delivered over 50,000MT of its food, and around 27,000MT of Government-provided food relief. As well, a measles campaign covering 700,000 children in the South was completed, bringing coverage rates back to 90-100%. Access to clean water supply was improved for over 70,000 people in the South. Around 60,000 farmers who had lost seed were able to plant this year - the UN programme a significant component of wider national efforts in agricultural recovery. Stocks of essential drugs were boosted; and support was provided to health facilities to strengthen therapeutic feeding for 3,000 children. Capacity building support to health and nutrition surveillance systems has begun, and will continue in the months ahead.

The coming six months present new challenges for aid agencies as they intensify efforts to stimulate recovery. Priorities for the remaining appeal period are: programmes to address the special needs of households affected by HIV/AIDS; reorient food relief programmes so that food aid does not undermine the market during harvest time; and rural health services in Zambia. "Our solid progress to date has been possible through the generosity of our donors, particularly in food aid and agriculture sectors," said Ms. King-Akerele, UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia "but our programmes in health, water and education sectors are still under-funded. We hope that donors will be able to respond generously to our request for funds for accelerated programming in these sectors, so we can assist the Government offset the immediate effects of the crisis and save lives, while complementing long term efforts to build sustained improvements in access to essential services." For the full MTR report of Zambia go to: www.reliefweb.org

Food situation in Mozambique worse than thought

The food security situation in Mozambique seems to be more affected by the current drought than initially thought, confirmed a report from the regional food security network (FEWSNet). They warned of serious crop losses due to failing rains in the south and parts of central Mozambique and a dramatic rise in food insecurity in the affected areas as a result. The Government of Mozambique organised a meeting with key partners to discuss the results of the December multi-sectoral vulnerability and food security assessments. They called for action under the government's contingency plan as well as for a long-term strategy to build resilience to natural disasters.

FAO has secured around US$600,000 from the UK DfID to cover a series of agricultural input trade fairs across the three southernmost provinces of Mozambique. The Government of Italy has also contributed to this effort. The fairs will be held by mid-April, providing inputs to around 33,000 households for the winter cropping season and strengthening food security within the region. A similar approach is being explored for other parts of Mozambique for the main 2003/04 agricultural season.

Crop situation in the region evaluated

A joint WFP/FAO Crop Situation Report on the development of the 2002/3 agricultural season will be prepared following visits between 13 February to 5 March to the six countries under the regional consolidated appeal. Information on planted area, the state of the season, potential yield and production will be sought in order to determine the crop prospects for 2003 (as well as project potential cereal gaps). Information gathered would be used to guide programming decisions beyond March 2003 and to feed into the annual FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions, which are planned for March-May 2003.

From lessons learned from 2002, Zambia is establishing a crop monitoring system, which will provide timely information on the location and scale of crop failure.

Emergency Drought Recovery project started in Malawi

The Malawi Government, together with the World Bank, launched on 6 February 2003 a two-year project called "Emergency Drought Recovery Project" (EDRP), which aims at enhancing long-term food security in the country. The project is expected to finance the rehabilitation of agricultural production levels and enhancement of food security; import costs associated with rebuilding physical asserts and critical infrastructure; and strengthen the country's capacity to formulate, implement and manage medium and long-term disaster management programs. The total cost of the programme is US$ 50 million.

FAO is seeking funds (US$500,000) for a winter cropping programme in Malawi to assist 80,000 families, affected by the floods. DfID is bilaterally supporting similar efforts with Government for 400,000 households. Timing of this intervention is critical in order to capture the full benefit of remaining soil moisture. Inputs should be with farmers by end-March, so funding must be sourced by end-February.

WFP receives important contribution from OPEC

The World Food Programme (WFP) received on 14 February 2003 a donation of US$9.2 million from the OPEC Fund for International Development. The funds will be divided among the six southern African countries of the consolidated appeal, with US$4.3 million being spent on providing emergency food aid to Zimbabwe, US$2.1 million for Malawi, US$1.8 million for Zambia, US$400,000 for Lesotho, US$400,000 for Mozambique and US$200,000 for Swaziland. The money will be used by WFP to purchase crucial supplies of vegetable oil and Corn Soya Blend (CSB). Targeting the most vulnerable households, particularly those affected by HIV/AIDS, CSB is the main source of essential micronutrients and provides a much-needed boost of protein into weakened diets. Vegetable oil is also crucial to the nutritional wellbeing of people. It accounts for approximately 17 percent of the daily energy consumption and contains high levels of Vitamin A, which helps stave off life-threatening diseases caused by malnutrition.


1. Food security

Therapeutic and child supplementary feeding in Zimbabwe

A total of 419 kg of F75 and 5,691kg of F100 for the treatment of severe malnutrition were distributed to hospitals in Zimbabwe. Because of the fuel shortages, a UNICEF truck has been used to transport the therapeutic food and carry out the distribution. Child supplementary feeding continues in five districts in the country, benefiting a total of 182,000 children five days a week.

WFP and Benetton cooperate to put hunger on top of world agenda

WFP and United Colors of Benetton on 13 February launched a global communication campaign which aims to set hunger on the top of the international agenda. The Food for Life campaign uses a series of images to tell the true stories of people whose last chance of escaping crisis and poverty lies with WFP's food aid. The campaign can be viewed on the WFP website: www.wfp.org.

2. HIV/AIDS and the Southern African humanitarian crisis

Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria rewards Mozambique programme

The Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) announced its second round of grants totaling US$ 866 million over the first two years. Sixty per cent of the new money will go to HIV/AIDS. The Global Fund will increase six-fold the number of people being treated with anti-retrovirals (ARVs) in Africa, ensuring that 500,000 additional people receive these medicines in developing countries. All of the AIDS grants include prevention components; 98 per cent use targeted communication campaigns to change the behavior of vulnerable groups, including youth and school children, and 70 per cent include prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) and voluntary counseling and testing (VCT).

The fund granted Mozambique up to US$54 million over two years for its proposals to involve community, government and NGO initiatives in addressing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

PMTCT programme launched in Lesotho

In Lesotho, a Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme was launched by the Government in the beginning of February with support from UNICEF. The launch was presided over by the Prime Minister who emphasized the need to implement the programme at the community level. Private sector donated the retroviral Nevirapine in support of the programme.

Workshop on HIV/AIDS and water & sanitation interventions

A national workshop in Zimbabwe to identify HIV/AIDS challenges and develop response guidelines in the context of water and environmental sanitation interventions took place on 17-20 February 2003. This workshop brought together national and provincial water and sanitation committee members and all NGOs who are active in the water and sanitation sector. The meeting is viewed as a major milestone in integrating HIV/AIDS and Water and Sanitation.

3. Health

National nutrition assessment started in Zimbabwe

The first national baseline nutrition assessment, sponsored by UNICEF, has begun in Zimbabwe involving the government, UN and NGOs. This is the first national survey since May 2002. The survey will examine current child nutritional status in 58 rural and 3 urban districts. Results are expected by end of February/beginning of May. A follow up survey is expected to start in July 2003.

WHO representatives meet to discuss health response in the region

Representatives from The World Health Organization's Emergency and Humanitarian Action Unit met in Harare, Zimbabwe to consider how best to improve the humanitarian response of the health sector to communities suffering from system-wide disruptions to medical services. Participants unanimously identified insufficiency of epidemiological data gathering as the main concern. The pattern of Cholera outbreaks in Mozambique was given as an example. Over the past 20 years, Cholera outbreaks occurred within shorter intervals and with higher intensity. This exponential trend suggested that, while public health interventions have had short-term curative effects, the disease is gaining ground over the long term. Specifically in light of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the region, it was decided that WHOs overriding priority should be to support national ministries to build a health intelligence system that was better able to acquire, analyze and synthesize health information.

4. Social services

Research on satellites schools in Zimbabwe

Research on satellite schools in Zimbabwe, commissioned by UNICEF and carried out by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture in November and December 2002 has been made public. The main aim of the research was to collect data on satellite schools, which are those schools that emerged as result of population movement following the land resettlement programme, and the subsequent need created to facilitate access to education for children in resettlement areas. The survey covered a total of 38 districts and there was a 73% response rate (representing 252 out of 346 authorised schools, with a total enrolment of 47,396 pupils).

The satellite schools showed enrolment patterns representative of the national pattern (51% boys, 49% girls), however enrolment shows a decreasing pattern from grades one to seven. Hunger was identified as one of the major reasons for pupils dropping out of school. Transfer of pupils to other schools was also identified as a factor. Generally, the findings indicate a lack of confidence in satellite schools due to lack of basic teaching materials, shortage of trained teachers, poor infrastructure, and lack of water and sanitation facilities. The findings of the research on satellite schools found that food assistance was identified as the only source of food for some pupils. This highlights the need to increase the scope of feeding scheme activities. Also see the Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report of 11 February 2003 on: www.reliefweb.org.

5. Recovery

Recovery planning in Zimbabwe

The UN in Zimbabwe is working on a strategy for providing assistance to national recovery planning. A complete recovery team is now in place at the UN Relief and Recovery Unit. In consultation and partnership with the relevant agencies and organisations, it is expected that the team will focus on two recovery areas in particular; (1) Food availability, focusing on ways of opening the food market, increasing the awareness of the availability of indigenous plants and fruits, stimulation wheat production and promoting the large scale use of drought resistant crops; and (2) Developing a strategy for better targeting and specific HIV/AIDS programming that includes; distribution of adapted food packs, low intensive agriculture methods, income generating schemes and safety nets.


Regional coordination in the health sector

RIACSO organized its first Health Task Force meeting, in which the UN agencies dealing with the health response to the crisis interacted with the NGOs operating in this sector. The objectives of the task force are to share information and a common understanding of health related problems in the region; develop relevant health indicators for the crisis and monitor progress; consolidate health profiles for the affected countries; organize joined reports on the health situation in the region; set priorities for the health response; and advocate and mobilize resources for the prioritized health needs. The next Task Force meeting is scheduled for 4 March.


HIV/AIDS, food security and nutrition

In a joint paper on the challenges of HIV/AIDS to food security and nutrition, WFP and FAO advocate for collaborative initiatives to amplify programming efforts around HIV/AIDS and food security. They recommend that HIV/AIDS strategic frameworks and work plans take food security and nutritional concerns into account. When designing programmes, both emergency and development agencies must bear in mind the role that food and nutrition have in the prevention and mitigation of HIV/AIDS.

For the agricultural sector, the combination of emergency operations with comprehensive, long-term interventions of a developmental nature would entail responding effectively to the implications of a dramatic loss of labour and loss of productive generations. The agricultural strategy should develop appropriate labour-saving technologies, the two agencies argue such as: low-input agriculture; lighter ploughs and tools that can be used by older children, women and the elderly; improved seed varieties that require less labour for weeding; intercropping and minimum tillage. Attention must also be paid to improving the nutrition of those affected by HIV/AIDS, say WFP and FAO. Possible strategies could include: nutritional home gardens; use of improved crop management and plant varieties with higher yields; use of small ruminants for consumption, sale and manure; education and labour exchange requirements. The two agencies further advocate that agricultural strategies ensure that basic agriculture skills are transmitted to orphans and to the young generation and that local knowledge, including biodiversity and gender-specific skills are preserved. Finally, they say, efforts must be made to reduce gender-based differences in access to and control of resources and livelihood assets -- in particular access to land, credit, employment, education and information.

Food aid can go a long way to alleviate suffering and stave off the malnutrition and illness associated with HIV/AIDS, the two agencies reason. HIV/AIDS programming in this sector should simultaneously encompass prevention, mitigation and care-based activities. They gave examples of how this could work in practice. For example, using food distribution sites to enable partners to raise awareness on HIV and AIDS. Or, making certain that long-haul truck drivers involved in the distribution of food aid are provided with risk reduction and prevention information and ample supply of condoms. Training of community health workers and youth peer educators was also mentioned as a prevention strategy. Examples of mitigation interventions are: food for vocational training for street children; school feeding programmes; Food for work to support agricultural production through home gardening to improve diet diversification; and food for training on income generating activities or low labour intensive agricultural production. Examples of care-based activities are: Providing food to people living with HIV/AIDS and ensuring the nutrition of their dependents; food and nutrition education as part of home-based care packages; training HIV/AIDS home-based care workers in nutrition counselling; and provide nutritional support to tuberculosis patients and their families.


The figures are based on the amendments in the Mid Term Review of the Consolidated Appeal

Coordination and support
Economic recovery &
Family shelter & non food
Protection/Human Rights
Water & Sanitation
671,864,225 (100%)

*As reported by UN-OCHA on 21 February 2003. Does not reflect pledges under negotiation.
**As reported by WFP Regional Office


Date Event
21 Feb. RIACSO Stakeholders Meeting (Joburg)
25 Feb. Visit by DFID audit team
23-28 February Workshop for USAID on agriculture, FFP, environment and private sector (AEPS) officers.
4 March Emergency preparedness workshop
organized by Wits University (Refugee
Research Prog) in Polokwane
13-14 March UNAIDS Regional Meeting in Nairobi
6 March (TBC) RIACSO/NGO partner meeting
20 March (TBC) RIACSO stakeholders meeting
8 to 23 March Joint visit of the members of UNICEF, UNDP/UNFPA and WFP Boards in Mozambique