Lesotho + 5 more

Southern African Humanitarian Crisis Update - 9 October 2003

Originally published

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

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.


SE expresses concern over low funding of appeal

The SG Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, Mr. James Morris, briefly visited Johannesburg on 3 and 4 October 2003 to discuss the future of the UN regional Inter-Agency intervention in southern Africa. A continuation of the regional coordination presence was recommended as well as a possible expansion in geographic scope. Contiguous with a paper from the UN High-Level Committee on Programmes, it was recommended that the substantive focus of the regional effort be on the triple threat of food insecurity, weakened capacity for governance and HIV/AIDS.

On 3 October 2003, the Special Envoy held a press conference, stressing the urgent need for funding to avoid the end or non-implementation of life saving activities. He emphasized the need to address the orphan crisis now, before the situation spiralled completely out of control. He also warned that without new funding, the fragile gains that have been achieved over the course of the past 12 months could be lost.

The response to the Consolidated Appeal for the region has been alarmingly limited to date. Currently, there is a shortfall of more than US$ 423 million or 80% of the CAP (total requested US$530 million). In particular, there is a lack of resources for non-food items. Only US$9.5 million of the US$211 million requested (4.3%) has been donated. There is also a critical funding crisis for food aid, with a shortfall of US$211m. The overall food pipeline status for the lean period from January through to the harvest period is of grave concern.

The Special Envoy warned against slipping back to "business as usual". While rainfall is expected to be normal this coming season, which will further improve food security, the reality of the apocalyptic proportion of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is much more complex and countries are likely to remain in crisis for a good number of years. Stepped up efforts, including strong donor and partner engagement is needed to address the serious consequences of HIV/AIDS. It is imperative that this message gets imprinted into the minds of the international community to avoid yet another "forgotten crisis" in Africa.

WFP Mozambique is limiting food distributions because of funding shortfalls

The WFP's Mozambique portion of the Southern Africa regional emergency operation only covers the planned food requirements through to November 2003. WFP has therefore begun limiting food distribution activities to stretch available food supplies until December 2003. Unless donations are confirmed in the coming weeks, WFP will have to consider reducing activities in some areas to ensure people in the worst affected areas continue receiving food assistance after December 2003.

Currently WFP is covering the needs of 523,000 people, approximately 80% of the number of people identified by the SADC Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC) to be in a situation of extreme food insecurity. WFP cannot target additional beneficiaries given the lack of food aid in the pipeline.

WFP Mozambique urgently needs 24,500 tons of cereals, 1,200 tons of pulses, and 700 tons of vegetable oil to ensure the operation is resourced until January 2004. WFP will be able to procure immediately 3,000 tons of locally produced cereals for approximately US$ 1.5 million, which is enough to feed 200,000 people for one month.

As reported in the last RIACSO bulletin, UNICEF has also warned that its supplementary feeding programme in Mozambique will run out of food supplies by December if no new pledges are made.

WFP MOU for Zimbabwe signed - donors still not forthcoming

On 25 September 2003, after an intense period of negotiations, the Government of Zimbabwe and WFP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reaffirming that WFP food aid will be distributed on the basis of need alone and that WFP would operate as before with food aid being distributed by NGO partners. Donors have kept funding for Zimbabwe on hold since August after the government announced a new NGO policy stipulating that local government structures would be responsible for selection of beneficiaries and distribution of humanitarian aid. On 23 September, the government also signed an agreement with EURONAID, a consortium of European NGOs providing food aid to Zimbabwe. Despite these important policy changes, pledges from donors are still delayed, and Zimbabwe will face a serious food gap by the end of the year.

In a statement issued on 6 October 2003, the Zimbabwe UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Victor Angelo, called on donors to urgently increase their funding for Zimbabwe to allow food aid to continue as well as life saving interventions in the health and water supply sectors. Moreover, he appealed for funds for community rehabilitation programmes to strengthen household food production and self-reliance. For the full statement see: www.sahims.net.

Rainfall for Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe predicted to be normal

On 12th September 2003, the Meteorological Institute of Mozambique, INAM, presented the following outlook for Mozambique. A likelihood of normal to below-normal rainfall in the northern region; a likelihood of normal rainfall in the central region; and a likelihood of normal to above-normal rainfall in the southern regions.

The seasonal rainfall forecast for Zambia issued by the Department of Meteorology on 12 September 2003 indicates that normal rainfall is expected over much of Zambia during the 2003/2004 rainy season. The forecast stated that during the period October to December 2003, north-western, Copperbelt, Luapula and Northern provinces including the northern districts of Central Province, have a high likelihood of experiencing normal to above normal rainfall. Lusaka and Eastern provinces including southern districts of Central Province are expected to receive normal rainfall, while Western and Southern Provinces are likely to receive normal to below normal rainfall especially over the southwestern and southern parts. For the remainder of the season (January to March 2004), rainfall will generally be normal to above normal.

The Zimbabwe Department for Meteorological Services predicted the end of El Nino, establishing near-normal conditions. From October to December 2003, the north-eastern parts of the country are expecting normal rainfall, the Western part normal to above normal, while in the southern provinces rainfall is expected to be normal to below normal. From January to March, the meteorological department reports normal rainfall for most of the country except for the south, where below normal rainfall is possible. Despite these more favorable indicators , FEWSNET reports that prospects for the 2003/04 agricultural season remain bleak because of shortages of fertilizer, seeds, fuel and agricultural equipment spare parts.

The seventh Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) on 3 and 4 September 2003, looking at the prospects for the 2003/2004 rainfall season for the whole of SADC, reported that south-western and eastern parts of the SADC region are likely to receive normal to below-normal rainfall for the period October to December 2003, while the rest of the region is likely to experience normal to above-normal rainfall. During the period January to March 2004, there is a high probability of normal conditions across much of southern Africa, with a possibility of below-normal rainfall in the southwestern parts. Also see the following reports on www.sahims.net: Food Reserve Agency, Weekly Market Highlights Zambia, 12-18 September 2003; Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report, 30 September 2003; Mozambique Humanitarian Situation Monitor, 30 September 2003

Malawi still dealing with high numbers of refugees

IRIN reported that Malawi is still experiencing a constant stream of people seeking refuge from the strife-torn Great Lakes region. The Disaster Relief and Preparedness Commissioner, Lucius Chikuni, told IRIN however that the country was well prepared for the steady stream of people seeking asylum. He said that about 100 to 200 asylum seekers come in every month from the Great Lakes region. Also see "MALAWI: Steady stream of asylum seekers from Great Lakes", IRIN 25 Sept 2003, on www.irinnews.org


1. Food security

Urban food interventions launched in Zambia and Zimbabwe

WFP Zambia and local implementing partner Programme Urban Self Help (PUSH) officially launched a Food for Work project in Kabwata Site and Service Area, Lusaka. The purpose of the project is to upgrade a roadside drainage network totaling 1,3 km, while at the same time providing income transfer for 100 vulnerable households. Under the Project, PUSH provides the beneficiaries with skills training and technical assistance in road works while WFP provides hand tools and food.

In Zimbabwe, USAID launched a new urban food security pilot project in Bulalwayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city. The Market Assistance Pilot Programme (MAPP) aims to address increasing food shortages in urban areas. Sorghum donated by the US is being sold in 40 high-density suburbs of Bulawayo at a subsidized price of ZW$1,900 for a 5kg bag. The GoZ controlled price for a 5kg sack of the staple corn meal is ZW$3,320, while the price on the parallel market is over ZW$10,000. Supplies of corn meal are small and the cost is beyond the means of many urban poor. The relief programme is being implemented by Catholic Relief Services in collaboration with World Vision and Care International, and is funded by the US government through the Food for Peace Office of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The pilot programme will run initially for six months at which point it will be evaluated with a view to continuation and possible expansion. Also see the WFP Zambia Country Office weekly Situation Report 9-15 September 2003 and the Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report of 30 September 2003 on www.sahims.net.

Agricultural Input Fairs in Mozambique targeting more than 25,000 families

FAO in Mozambique reported that the agricultural input distribution project is fully underway, with 51 Input Trade Fairs taking place during the months of September, October and November 2003, reaching 25,330 families (150,000 beneficiaries) in the provinces of Gaza, Maputo, Tete, Manica and Sofala. The implementing partners of the Trade Fairs are national and international NGOs, with technical supervision by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADER) and FAO. Also see the Mozambique Humanitarian Situation Monitor of 30 September 2003 on www.sahims.net.

Specific agricultural assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS

FAO Lesotho has decided to fund its implementing partner, Save the Children Fund UK to provide appropriate emergency agricultural support to 10,000 HIV/AIDS affected beneficiaries, including orphaned children, in six villages in the Mapeteng area of Berea District.

Since 2000, SCF(UK) has been working with communities in Berea District to train them in new vegetable production systems, including the use of green houses, drip irrigation and compost preparation. As a result, the area is now self-sufficient in vegetable seedlings, such as tomato, pumpkin, cabbage and eggplant.

FAO funds will allow SCF(UK) to extend its project to other villages in the area. The project is scheduled to start in mid-October and will focus on training farmers in appropriate vegetable and field crop production. It will also provide the necessary inputs, such as seed, fertilizer, shade netting and drip irrigation equipment for village-level community gardens.

2. Health and nutrition

Malaria claims 786 lives in Zimbabwe

IRIN reported that officials in Zimbabwe announced that malaria had killed 786 people between January and the end of September, and warned that critical anti-malaria outreach programmes may not be sufficiently funded. It was also reported that some hospitals had been forced to turn patients away because they had run out of food and medicines. It is expected that with the onset of the rainy season, the number of people succumbing to Malaria will increase. Without proper prevention material, the death toll could rise dramatically. On average between 1,000 and 1,500 people die of Malaria in Zimbabwe each year. Also see "Malaria death toll reaches 786 since January", IRIN 2 October 2003 on www.irinnews.org.

Levels of underweight children in Lesotho above long-term mean

The Lesotho Nutrition Surveillance Taskforce, comprising UNICEF, the Food and Nutrition Coordination Office (FNCO), Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other partners has collected and analysed data from one district. Preliminary results indicate that levels of underweight children are above the long-term mean for the month of May 2003. UNICEF is funding the nutrition surveillance process, while FNCO chairs the taskforce.


HIV/AIDS as integral part of poverty reduction strategy

In its report "The impact of HIV/AIDS: A Population and Development Perspective", UNFPA advocates that the impact of HIV/AIDS should be an integral part of Poverty Reduction Strategies. The report highlights the effects of HIV/AIDS on people's lives, in terms of lower life expectancy, slower economic growth and increased poverty.

From 8 to 12 September 2003, UNFPA organised a workshop for its country offices to assist them in strengthening their understanding of, and responses to, the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The meeting addressed issues such as socio-cultural factors and the spread of HIV/AIDS, the effects of inter-generational sex on population demography, HIV/AIDS education including mother to child transmission as part of ante-natal care, the impact of the condom distribution programme, HIV/AIDS in the workplace as well as cooperation with other UN Agencies.

4. Water and Sanitation

Assistance to 14 schools in Lesotho to improve water and sanitation

UNICEF, together with stakeholders from relevant Ministries and water and environmental health partner agencies, has set up a Water and Sanitation Steering Committee in Lesotho. An assessment of thirty schools in Maseru has been completed and analysed for technical gaps requiring further evaluations on the ground. The Ministry of Environment and Transport has earmarked fourteen out of the 30 assessed schools for assistance through Irish funding. The Committee is working closely to adopt an integrated approach and provide a complete, effective and efficient health, hygiene and sanitation package to schools in Maseru and Mokhotlong.

5. Education

School feeding programme in Zambia increases school attendance

A pilot school-feeding programme in Zambia, which commenced on 1 July 2003 in 30 schools in three districts in the Southern Province, has had a positive impact on school attendance rates, increased enrollment rates in community schools and increased attentiveness of pupils. On 8 September 2003 the school feeding programme expanded to another two districts in Southern and Eastern Provinces, namely Livingstone and Chadiza. The programme is now reaching 19,000 beneficiaries in 50 schools in five districts. In collaboration with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, a de-worming component has now been added to the programme. Also see the WFP Zambia CO weekly Situation Report 9-15 September 2003 on www.sahims.net.


Urban vulnerability assessments in Zimbabwe

A national urban vulnerability assessment, carried out by the Government, commenced in Zimbabwe on 22 September 2003. Food security within the urban and peri-urban areas continues to be an issue of major concern due to the rapidly declining economy. Very limited assessments have been undertaken to determine the impact of the economic and social changes in Zimbabwe on vulnerability in urban areas. It is against this backdrop that the Government of Zimbabwe sought funding from UNDP to carry out a food security and livelihoods assessment in urban areas. It is hoped that the information generated from the assessment will be useful to government and its partners in the humanitarian assistance programmes, both decision-makers and practitioners, by providing timely and accurate information and analysis on the urban poor.

The assessment hopes to give insights into the causes of food and livelihood vulnerability, coping strategies, the linkages between food security, HIV/AIDS, education, child protection and health and identify food and non-food interventions and policy implications.

Like the vulnerability assessments (VA) that have been conducted in rural areas, the urban VA will also pursue a livelihoods-based vulnerability analysis (LBVA) framework based on household surveys, focus group discussions and institutional surveys. The assessment, which hopes to cover about 4,500 households, will be done in all urban areas of Zimbabwe including; cities, border towns, district capitals, mining towns, provincial capitals, resort towns and service towns and centres. A final report is expected by the end of November 2003. For more information see the Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report of 30 September 2003 on www.sahims.net

Contingency planning in Zimbabwe

The UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator has decided to embark on a process of contingency planning involving all stakeholders to ensure that the humanitarian agencies in Zimbabwe are prepared for funding shortfalls as well as worsening conditions in the first quarter of 2004. OCHA and UNDP - BCPR will assist in this process. A preparedness plan is expected to be in place by the end of October.

Zimbabwe is at the beginning of its agricultural year, but there has been minimal land preparation due to a chronic weakness in the capacity of tillage services. Seed supplies are one problem, but there are also acute shortages of fertilizer for hybrid maize. The UN is concerned about recovery prospects for 2004. Even with the reasonable rains expected, there is a fear that the maize harvest will not be enough to cover the needs. By next year, Zimbabwe will be on its fourth continuous year of food aid. This is a worrying trend in itself.


The silent suffering of Swaziland

Today, if one were to randomly put together a football team of 11 Swazi twenty-something's, according to the latest statistical data, 5 out of the 11 players will be HIV positive. They might still perform well for a year or so, and may even win the tournament. But within a few months it is likely that players will start missing football practice sessions with increasing regularity due to illness. By the second year the first death among the players will probably be announced. If the team called a reunion in 2010, probably only six players would be able to attend. The rest of their team-mates would be dead before they had even reached their prime. However, if recent initiatives by the Swaziland Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, in conjunction with WHO and other UN agencies and NGO partners, receive the required support, it is possible that all the players would make it to the reunion.

WHO and the Swaziland Ministry of Health and Social Welfare have just published "The Health Sector Response to HIV/AIDS Plan in Swaziland", which sets out a comprehensive and well thought out strategy and operational guidelines to ensure a harmonised and well coordinated response to the devastation of HIV/AIDS.

The report traces the epidemiological history of the Pandemic. The 1997 national census found that the population of Swaziland was approximately 980,722. By the end of 2001 it is estimated that over 12,000 Swazis had died of AIDS, leaving behind 35,000 orphans. The incidence of tuberculosis has shown a sharp increase since 1996 and has become the main cause of morbidity and mortality in Swaziland, with more than 70% of TB patients co-infected with HIV/AIDS. This bleak scenario brings home why His Majesty King Mswati III has declared the HIV/AIDS epidemic a national disaster. Furthermore, in February 2003, while opening parliament, the King cautioned that "there was a very real possibility that the Swazi nation will cease to exist, unless we change our attitudes and behaviour." "This is particularly true for a small country like Swaziland with a limited human resource base," observes Dr David Okello, WHO Representative in Swaziland.

Even prior to the onset of HIV/AIDS, Swaziland's health system was being stretched by the health needs of the poor. Efforts were being made to develop the capacity to prepare for and respond to emergent threats - cholera, malaria, measles, diarrhoea,- through effective Primary Health Care interventions. As the infrastructure, roads and communications improved, increasing cross-border traffic has ironically facilitated the spread of the deadly virus, as the virus was spread by truck drivers - now known to be a high-risk group because of their 'overt support' for the Commercial Sex Trade - travelling the coastal transport routes from South Africa and Maputo.

But as the HI Virus compromises the immune system of individuals, the overall social fabric of Swaziland is being stretched beyond tolerable levels. Vulnerability manifests in further susceptibility to illness, resulting in a vicious downward spiral. Overburdened health professionals working within the Swazi health system naturally look for opportunities with better prospects for success, accelerating the 'brain drain' and the under-development of Swazi society.

Notwithstanding this situation, the WHO country team has redoubled its efforts to ensure that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is well supported to safeguard the health of the most vulnerable, and thus to ensure that other humanitarian efforts (food, seeds and water) do not prove to have been irrelevant because of death from chronic underlying health conditions.

As distressing as the burden of care is becoming due to declining health services, there is also growing evidence that where the 'physical, mental and social well-being' of HIV positive people is also in a "positive" state, this deters disease and infirmity, giving people with HIV/AIDS the opportunity to live longer and more productive lives. Their children have the benefit of capable parenting, and the social fabric has a chance to heal again. "The Soccer team might prove to be more than winners on the field, as it becomes a support group to its members, promoting life-affirming attitudes and behavior." Dr Okello urges.

"WHO Swaziland had to improvise to obtain funds for vital interventions during the past year because it received no funding for the emergency health proposals included in the previous Consolidated Appeal. I believe that this evidence will also change, and that the $2,83 million pledge that WHO has undertaken to secure from international funding partners will materialize."

The Swaziland Health Appeal is jointly undertaken with UNICEF and UNFPA, and includes four projects: Emergency Epidemic Response ($1,9m); Targeted Supplementary Feeding ($729,000); Voluntary Counseling and Testing at Community Level ($111,617); and Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS Prevention in the Humanitarian Response ($50,000).

The silent suffering women and children of Swaziland are in this plight not by choice, but by circumstances. Despite the evidence, they hope. These four projects provide a plan, and the humanitarian community can provide the resources we need to create the evidence that vindicates the hope of the people of Swaziland," concludes Dr Okello.



WFP regional operation**
530,405,696 (100%)
106,976,279 (20%)

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

**As reported by WFP Regional Office

***Kindly note that mistakenly, contributions made regionally but meant for the six countries were reported as contributions to the region. This explains the difference between the previously recorded US$ 2,203,469 and this new figure.


Date Event
15 October RIACSO meeting with donors
13-19 Oct Regional IA mission PRRO appraisal Malawi & Lesotho
22-24 October Jo'burg African Aid Disaster Management & Relief Expo
20-26 Oct Regional IA mission PRRO appraisal Zambia and Mozambique
11-13 Nov CCA UNDAF Workshop in Pretoria
12-13 Nov IASC WG Meeting
18-19 Nov Global Launch of CAP
1 Dec World Aids day