Lesotho + 4 more

Southern African Humanitarian Crisis Update - 24 January 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.

Special Envoy Mr. James Morris on mission in the region

Mr. James Morris, the Secretary General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, has started his second tour of the region from 22 to 29 January 2003. Mr. Morris is accompanied by Mr. Stephen Lewis, SG Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Dr. Ramsamy, the Executive Secretary of SADC as well as high level representatives of WHO, WFP, UNICEF, UNDP, UNAIDS, OCHA and FAO. The mission started its tour in Lesotho, where they met with H.E. the King, the Prime Minister, other government officials, the international community and civil society. They also visited a HIV/AIDS clinic. The mission proceeded to Zimbabwe on Thursday night, where they met with the President on Friday as well as other government officials, the international community and civil society. On Sunday the mission proceeded to Malawi and they will finish their tour in Zambia.

The objectives of the mission are to re-assess the humanitarian situation in the region, review response efforts and coordination mechanisms, and place special emphasis on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the region, including its long-term food security implications.

Update on the floods in Malawi and Mozambique

The UN Resident Coordinator's office in Malawi issued a second update on the flood damage, experienced in 17 districts. The affected districts are Salima, Dowa, Rumphi, Balaka, Machinga, Dedza, Nsanje, Ntcheu, Phalombe, and Mchinji, Zomba. Other areas such as Chitipa, Thyolo, Mangochi, Karonga Lilongwe, and Nkhotakota were also affected by heavy rains with some areas of cropland inundated with water. Damage ranges from inaccessibility due to loss of infrastructure to displacement, complete loss or destruction of crops, houses and livestock. Preliminary findings show that 57,000 households have been affected, including 3,625 houses washed away and 23,500 hectares of crops damaged. Emergency assistance, including food, shelter and blankets has arrived in most of the affected areas. WFP and NGOs are prioritizing emergency relief food distribution arrangements for those affected. Assessments of flood damage will continue during the week. (For more information see the flood update on: www.reliefweb.org).

The Resident Coordinator's office in Mozambique reported that approximately 90,000 people in Nampula and 8,000 in Zambezia Provinces were affected by the floods and 9,000 hectares crops were estimated to be lost. Destruction of roads, rail, hospitals and schools was also reported. The government has activated its national 2003 contingency plan, mobilizing funds for the immediate response for the flood victims and for the opening of access roads. The National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) is co-coordinating the relief efforts in collaboration with line ministries, the Armed Forces, the Mozambican Red Cross, NGOs and UN Agencies. Food, shelter and other relief items have been dispatched to the affected areas and repairs are being undertaken to rail and road. WFP has contributed 40 tons of emergency food aid, 20 tons of which have already been delivered. As there was no access by road, the Government of Mozambique hired a helicopter from South Africa to transport the food to the victims.

Nine hunger related deaths in Mozambique

The Resident Coordinator's office in Mozambique confirmed the reports that nine people died from eating poisonous wild fruits due to hunger in Magoe District in the north-west of the country. The district is chronically food insecure and has high rates of malnutrition (6.7%). WFP responded by an emergency delivery of food aid into the area. Assessments are being carried out to further appraise the situation.

Situation in Zimbabwe is becoming alarming

Field reports from Zimbabwe reflect an alarming situation in vulnerable communities. Cases of deaths, theft, children fainting in school, and adults collapsing are on the rise. There has been no improvement in the general fuel supply situation with what arrives in country being exhausted within a few days. The fertilizer shortage is expected to continue, as the shortage of foreign currency impedes ability to import inputs. WFP has stepped up distributions as implementation capacity and pipeline have improved and expects to deliver 47,000 MT of food in January, more than double the previous highest distribution level.

SADC issues warning

The SADC Drought Monitoring Center in Harare issued a warning statement for the 2002/2003 rainfall season. "The poor rainfall trend, especially south of SADC is forecasted to continue through out the remainder of the 2002/03 rainfall season, which poses a serious cause of concern". Parts of Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are considered critical. The center urgently called for the formulation of strategic measures for contingency plans (for more information see: www.dmc.co.zw).

SADC Ministerial Consultative Meeting on Nutrition and HIV/AIDS

A SADC Ministerial Consultative Meeting on Nutrition and HIV/AIDS was held in Pretoria from 20-21 January where Ministers of Health from ten of the 14 SADC countries represented came together to discuss and agree on ways to strengthen nutrition and health programs. An opening presentation was made by UNAIDS on HIV/AIDS and the Food Crisis in the region followed by two presentations by UNICEF on nutrition. The meeting resulted in a set of policy recommendations to improve programs on nutrition and health, notably HIV/AIDS. Special emphasis was placed on the promotion, integration and regulation of traditional and indigenous knowledge.


1. Food security

Aid works! Conservation farming in Zambia

Conservation farming is a technique well suited to increase yields in dry environments. Land preparation is carried out in the dry season so that seeds can be planted with the first good rains and the season can be fully capitalized upon. By focusing attention and inputs on 'planting basins' rather than the whole field, input costs are lower and production, both magnitude and value, is increased.

Under a fully funded overall FAO programme of US$5.1 million in Zambia, conservation-farming activities are being supported through NGO implementing partners, building on what already existed before the crisis. Donors include the Governments of the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK. Specifically on stabilization of production levels, input packages of seeds, fertilizers, lime and tools have been distributed to 60,000 conservation farming farmers across southern Zambia, excluding Western Province where a cassava-based intervention is underway. Training for all conservation-farming recipients has been included in the package. A monitoring activity is currently under development with the Government of Zambia and interested parties.

An initial estimate puts the potential value of produced maize at around US$18 million1, when compared to the cost of importing direct food aid, emphasizing the value of investment in agriculture. In addition there will be the value of the legumes produced from the input packs, a sustaining of livelihoods, and an increased potential for income generation from surplus production. A post-season assessment is currently being planned to better quantify the benefits of conservation farming. This information will then be used to examine ways to expand the uptake of conservation farming and how to alleviate in periods of high labour need, particularly important given the impact of HIV/AIDS on the agricultural labour force.
FAO also implements conservation-farming projects in Mozambique and project proposals are under preparation to expand this successful recovery initiative to other countries. For more information, please contact the FAO offices at RIACSO tel: 011 517 1634.

Therapeutic feeding

In December 2002, almost 100 children received treatment for severe malnutrition at the 23 therapeutic feeding centres operating in Tete Province in Mozambique, an area hard hit by the drought and HIV/AIDS pandemic. This is slightly above the average monthly caseload of 75 children. In Zambia, therapeutic feeding has started in 26 nutrition centers in areas most critically affected by the drought. UNICEF and WFP are carrying out therapeutic feeding.

Foot and mouth disease

FAO procured about 350,000 doses of foot and mouth disease vaccines for Zimbabwe following a generous contribution from the Netherlands. This should go a long way in tackling the disease that has been plaguing the country for the last few years. Recently a foot and mouth disease outbreak was reported in Botswana. As a result, South Africa and the EU banned all imports of meat from this country. Imports from Zimbabwe have been banned since the outbreak of the disease there.

C-SAFE receives first shipment

The NGO Consortium for Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE) received its first shipment last week at the Port of Durban. The 7,000 tons of maize is destined for Zimbabwe after being milled in South Africa and will be allocated between the three NGO consortium members, CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and World Vision (WV). C-SAFE expects to distribute a total of 160,000 tons of commodities in 2003, concentrating on Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

2. HIV/AIDS and the Southern African humanitarian crisis

AIDS activities in Zimbabwe focus on food assistance

In response to the crisis, the National AIDS Council (NAC) in Zimbabwe reported that most of the Z$5 million allocated to each of the 84 District AIDS Action Committees (DAAC) in the country has been used to provide vulnerable groups within the communities with food packages and basic items for home based care (For more information see the Zimbabwe Relief and Recovery Unit Situation Report on www.reliefweb.org).

3. Health

Immunization programme in Zimbabwe about to collapse

UNICEF, WHO and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare foresee a possible collapse of Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) services in the next three months if no interventions are undertaken immediately. This is largely due to the severe foreign currency shortage preventing the government from procuring vaccines. Fuel shortages and lack of transport to distribute vaccines at sub-district level also contribute to the problems. UNICEF is looking for ways to supply vaccines rapidly from other UNICEF offices in the region with surplus stock. 10,000 vials of DPT vaccines have already been air freighted from Uganda as an emergency measure. WHO and UNICEF have also agreed to share costs for an experienced logistician to be based with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Health. Intensive fundraising efforts are underway to source further resources for vaccines and cold chain maintenance. For more information contact the UNICEF or WHO offices at RIACSO tell: 011 517 1634.


WHO reported that the number of malaria cases in Zimbabwe in the last week of December 2002 reached 3,942, an increase of 19% compared to the previous week. The drug supplies are adequate at the moment. However, there is need to facilitate the movement of drugs from national level to the regional level.

3. Social services

Back to school

In Mozambique, local education authorities in Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, Manica, and Tete Provinces have started distributing school supplies provided by UNICEF for the new school year. These include 177,000 pupil kits; 6,200 teaching kits; 590 classroom kits and 1,800 school desks pre-positioned at the end of 2002 in the areas affected by the humanitarian situation. In Swaziland, a school feeding programme in 80 schools will be operational at the end of January with the arrival of foodstuff. In the meantime, UNICEF and partners have laid down the groundwork by assessing the needs of individual schools and training cooks.


Stakeholders meeting on the Mid Term Reviews

A RIACSO stakeholders meeting was held on 17 January 2002, to give some early feedback on the findings of the Mid Term Review (MTR) process. The MTR looked at the changes in the humanitarian context as compared to the assumptions in the initial appeals, progress made towards goals and objectives, priorities for the outstanding appeal period and the outlook for 2003. The changes in the humanitarian context were: a better understanding of the interface between HIV/AIDS and the food crisis; a deterioration in the social service provision sectors as a result of the crisis and the limited assistance received so far; the regional impact of the accelerated decline in Zimbabwe; the acceptance of GMO food aid; and the erratic weather patterns (El Nino) and subsequent agricultural losses. The priorities for the outstanding appeal period were identified as: maintaining a full pipeline; intensified attention for the social services sector, especially health and nutrition; strategic inputs for agriculture; protection against the impact of HIV/AIDS, with special emphasis on women; and improved coordination of the response efforts, with a focus on humanitarian principles.

The outlook for 2003 was considered not good. Weather patterns have been erratic, hampering agricultural recovery. HIV/AIDS prevalence actually increased while programmes to address the impact of the epidemic have not been able to generate the expected results. The needs in Zimbabwe are growing momentarily at a faster pace than the relief efforts can handle. An improvement in the situation is not in sight. And, competing priorities in humanitarian assistance elsewhere in the world threaten to push the southern African crisis to the margin.

Despite the bleak outlook, participants at the meeting agreed that the combined efforts of national governments and the international community went a long way to help stabilize the situation and avert a major humanitarian catastrophe. The participants further discussed a number of issues, such as longer term commitments to the region, specifically with regards to HIV/AIDS, without creating dependency; better targeting of beneficiaries; resource mobilization in light of competing crises; cooperation and coordination with the International Financial Institutions; responsibility of the national governments; and recovery.

Government of Mozambique launches its contingency plan

The government of Mozambique launched its national contingency plan for 2003. The plan contemplates three disaster scenarios of which the likelihood of drought was estimated at 100%. The likelihood of cyclones was estimated at 50% and floods at 25%. The total expected caseload of a drought was expected to be 1,5 million people. If all three disasters were to occur in 2003, the total response cost was estimated at US$ 47 million. The UN's relief strategy for Mozambique (as part of the overall UN appeal for southern Africa) is fully integrated within the government's Contingency Plan.

WFP regional strategy meeting

WFP held a regional strategy meeting in Johannesburg, attended by 60 WFP staff, including Headquarters' colleagues, Country Directors, Emergency Coordinators, logistics and programme staff from all ten countries in the recently established Johannesburg-based bureau for southern Africa (ODJ). Main strategic priorities that emerged include integrating HIV/AIDS into all programming, supporting access to education through school feeding and other activities, and effective response to crisis and recovery efforts in the region.

Nacala railway affected by tropical depression Delphina

The Nacala railway line reopened on Monday 27 January 2003. It was closed due to the wash-away of the rail lines and derailment of the train caused by tropical depression Delfina. This closure delayed expected arrivals of WFP food to Malawi by at least seven days. A WFP civil engineer has conducted a preliminary assessment on the bridges and roads damaged by the floods. (For more information see: WFP Regional Consolidated Situation Report for Southern Africa, 21 January 2003 on www.wfprelogs.org).


WFP was pleased this week to confirm contributions of US$ 33,418 from the Government of Cameroon and US$ 104,000 from the Government of Austria to the Southern Africa Regional EMOP. With these contributions, the EMOP is more than 65% funded against requirements through March 2003 with a shortfall of approximately US$ 177 million.

(Will be updated on the day of sending)


Coordination and support
Economic recovery & infrastructure
Family shelter & non food items
Protection/Human Rights
Water & Sanitation
611,340,268 (100%)
353,473,095 (58%)

*As reported by UN-OCHA on 23 January 2003. Does not reflect pledges under negotiation.


Date Event
21-30 Jan. Mission of the Special Envoy, James Morris, to Southern Africa
21 Jan Joburg
23 Jan Lesotho
25 Jan Zimbabwe
26 Jan Malawi
27 Jan Zambia
29 Jan Joburg
29 Jan. Consultative meeting RIACSO and donors (SE participation)
30 Jan. RIACSO NGO meeting
28-1 Feb C-SAFE DM&E workshop
3-7 Feb. Executive Board meeting WFP/Rome
6 Feb. RIACSO stakeholders meeting
14 Feb. Presentation- launch of the Mid Term Review of Consolidated Appeals
20 Feb. RIACSO Stakeholders Meeting
23-28 February Workshop for USAID on agriculture, FFP, environment and private sector (AEPS) officers.

1 60,000 packs for 0.25ha = 15,000 ha at 3mt/ha = 45,000 MT production at US$400 / MT food aid equivalent = US$18 million