Lesotho + 5 more

UNICEF Humanitarian Action: Southern Africa Crisis Donor Update 03 Dec 2002

HUGE FUNDING GAPS: 67% of UNICEF CAP is not funded

  • "New variant famine" in the making; massive aid required
  • Dramatic declines in school attendance in Zambia and Malawi

Click here to see southern African Drought Affected Areas


"A New Variant Famine" in Southern Africa

According to a paper by researcher Alex de Waal, currently with the UNICEF Liaison Office in Addis Ababa, a new and unfamiliar type of famine is in the making in Southern Africa. Whereas the study of peacetime famine in Africa has developed sophisticated models of understanding rural vulnerability and household/social responses to famine, these are no longer adequate or appropriate in the era of HIV/AIDS. What emerges today is a "new variant famine", characterised by heightened vulnerability, a breakdown in coping strategies, rapid descent into starvation and the inability of households and societies to recover.

The implications for humanitarian assistance, the author suggests, are far-reaching. These include:

  • Massive aid: the scale of the humanitarian response needs to match the scale of the crisis

  • Long-term welfarism

  • Beneficiaries to include adults in the productive age group as well as children

  • New forms of humanitarian aid need to be applied to the crisis

  • New and improved monitoring tools to address the "new" famine

  • Strategies for rehabilitation, recovery and development need to be carefully designed in the context of HIV/AIDS pandemic and its adverse impact on labour supply, adult life expectancy and capacity of national institutions.

Children drop out of school because of food shortages

Data from a UNICEF-supported survey in primary schools in six provinces in Zambia shows dramatic declines in school attendance for both boys and girls. A community school in Siavonga district - an area badly affected by the drought - recorded a drop in girls’ school attendance from 75 per cent in April 2002 to 17 per cent in September; for boys the decline was from 71 per cent to 24 per cent. The impact of the crisis on school attendance is also corroborated by studies in Malawi that reveal a high correlation between food shortages and increases in dropouts. Some 10 per cent of all male pupils and 10 per cent of girls have not attended school for 20 days or more.

Erratic weather continues; heavy storm in Mozambique leaves people homeless

The El-Niño phenomenon is yet another compounding factor to the current crisis in Southern Africa. It is currently forecast to be of moderate magnitude. Implications for the region are normal to above-normal rainfall for October-December 2002, followed by normal to below normal rains for the following three months (January to March 2003). Significant crop yield reductions are expected in the region. It is therefore likely that food assistance will be needed at least until the next summer harvest in May/June 2003 if not beyond. Water borne diseases, such as cholera and malaria are on the increase now that the rainy reason has started, further burdening already over-stretched health services in the affected countries.

Three people died and almost 800 families were left homeless when a fierce storm struck Mozambique’s port city of Beira on 24 October. According to assessment, 130 homes were completely destroyed, while 633 were left without roofs and a further 117 were partially destroyed.


Core Activities

Identifying and advocating for orphans and child-headed households for the provision of assistance

Child-headed households (CHHs) are a growing phenomenon in the context of the Southern African crisis. UNICEF deems it a top priority to identify and register orphans and child-headed households so that they can be more "visible" to receive humanitarian assistance.

Mozambique: In a project with the National Network for People Living with Aids (PLWA), UNICEF is developing community-based monitoring systems for CHH and orphans made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. In addition, the current multi-sectoral assessments conducted by the Southern African Development Community’s Vulnerability Assessment Committee (SADC-VAC) include indicators relating to vulnerability of CHHs and dependency ratios.

Malawi: Two pilot projects are underway to help communities monitory key indicators including numbers of CHHs and other vulnerable children such as those living with chronically ill caretakers and elderly family members.

Zambia: UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (WASHE) project systematically collects data on communities, including information on CHHs, orphans and households with orphans. Out of 20,000 vulnerable rural households surveyed, about one to two per cent have been identified as CHHs.

Zimbabwe: CHHs and orphans have been identified in six districts and are now registered in supplementary feeding programmes in five districts.

Lesotho: Registration of CHHs and orphans continues in three of the country’s 10 districts (Maseru, Mokhotlong, Mohale’s Hoek) with active involvement of local chiefs.

Swaziland: Data collection on CHHs across the country has been completed and partial results tabulated. More than 4,000 households were found to be headed by children. There were on average four children per household - 17,000 children in total. This figure will be further updated as data tabulation and analysis is finalised. This information, in addition to results from other community assessments, have helped UNICEF and its partners to implement an integrated strategy for service delivery to CHHs, orphans and other vulnerable children.

Measles immunisation and Vitamin A administration

Measles immunisation needs to be above 90 per cent to stop an epidemic from breaking out, while Vitamin A supplements are vital to boost children’s immunity compromised by malnutrition and HIV infection.

Malawi: 100 per cent coverage of children under five years of age was achieved during a measles campaign in August 2002. Vitamin A was also given to all targeted children at the same time.

Mozambique: While UNICEF provided logistical support to an emergency vaccination exercise aimed at containing a measles outbreak in Tete and Manica provinces, plans are underway to support "mop-up" measles vaccination. Vitamin A administration will be carried out in conjunction with supplementary feeding programmes to be launched in the near future.

Zambia: In response to measles outbreaks in the Western, Eastern and Lusaka provinces, the Zambian Government, with assistance from UNICEF, WHO and other partners, scheduled an emergency immunisation campaign for 25-27 November. To date there have been 8,000 cases of measles reported for 2002. The epidemics continue to affect older children and case fatality rates are high.

Zimbabwe: An 85 per cent coverage rate was achieved during National Days of Immunisation in July 2002. In order to improve on this figure, UNICEF and WHO are planning "mop-up" immunisation in districts with low coverage. Vitamin A supplements are being distributed as part of the supplementary feeding programme.

Lesotho: A phased accelerated measles campaign will kick off in December. Vaccines are already in stock and syringes on order. Vitamin A tablets have also been ordered to complement this initiative.

Swaziland: "Mop-up" vaccination is in the planning as the latest coverage rates of 86 per cent (June 2002) need to be increased. Vitamin A supplements, on order, arrived in end-November and will now be distributed as part of routine service delivery for children under five years of age and post-partum mothers.

De-worming programme

In the context of the Southern African crisis where a multitude of conditions including malnutrition and HIV/AIDS are having an adverse impact on children’s health, regular de-worming is critical to keep children as healthy as possible.

Swaziland: Results from a helminthes survey for children under five revealed a 50 per cent infection rate. Children involved in the survey are being treated in local health clinics. Deworming through schools will go to scale in January 2003 when the new school term starts and deworming drugs, ordered by UNICEF, are in place.

In the other Southern Africa countries, UNICEF is preparing to start deworming activities through various entry points - primary schools, nutrition centres and supplementary feeding programmes.

Cholera control

Since 2000, cholera outbreaks have been on the increase in the region, in particular Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa. Where previous epidemics occurred every four to five years, cholera now befalls some countries every second year or annually. This is indicative of the disease becoming endemic.

Malawi: A cholera outbreak in Karonga district on the Malawi-Tanzania border has been contained. Between 19-25 October, 18 cases of cholera, resulting in one death, were reported from Kaporo, a border town. Three of the cases were confirmed. Recently only two cases were reported at the beginning of the last epidemic week and none since then. No new cases have been confirmed. In response, UNICEF dispatched cholera treatment supplies to the area, sufficient to assist 15 health clinics and hospitals in the district to treat patients. In addition UNICEF, WHO and the Ministry of Health and Population have jointly carried out a two-day intensive Training of Trainers on cholera epidemiology, detection, field analysis, case management and health education. A total of 28 trainers participated and responsible for conducting similar courses in 20 districts, which started in mid-November. UNICEF has also pre-positioned 250,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts (ORS) in 10 critical districts as a basic intervention in case of further cholera outbreaks.

Mozambique: Although cholera is endemic in Mozambique, there have been no recent outbreaks in the past few months. ORS is used as an emergency intervention in event of an outbreak and sufficient stocks are in place with the Ministry of Health.

Zimbabwe: As part of the pre-positioning of supplies for cholera prevention and control, UNICEF has supplied the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare with more than 500,000 water treatment tablets for distribution to districts with vulnerable populations. Distribution is already underway. Some 62 boreholes will be rehabilitated with UNICEF support in the cholera-affected district of Zaka in Masvingo province.

Swaziland: UNICEF delivered 100,000 sachets of ORS to regional health facilities for use by rural health motivators (RHMs). The RHMs are present in numbers in communities, and with ORS stocks in their hands, should enable first-line action to keep cholera patients alive while they are being transported to health centres.

HIV/AIDS education

HIV/AIDS awareness and education has been an integral part of most regular country programmes in the six affected countries. With the current crisis such activities are being intensified.

Malawi: As part of its regular country programme, UNICEF supports life skills education in 85 primary schools as a major response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. More than 140 primary school advisors have been trained to further train teachers in life-skills education. Teacher training has recently been intensified due to the humanitarian crisis. A training of trainers’ crash course is underway at the moment with 30 teachers, six youth group representatives and six primary school advisors participating.

Mozambique: Three training courses have been held with UNICEF support for five associations affiliated to RenSIDA (National Network of Associations of PLWAs). These associations are now working with communities in Gaza, Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia to develop community-based monitoring and follow-up systems related to child-headed households and orphans made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile teacher training in HIV/AIDS continues in areas with high HIV/AIDS prevalence as part of a national teacher training programme conducted by provincial education authorities. UNICEF provides financial and technical training for the implementation of this training programme.

Lesotho: Training of 200 teachers is scheduled to begin in December using training material on HIV/AIDS and gender.

Swaziland: A total of 100 community members participated in the pre-testing of a UNICEF-developed communication design on HIV and AIDS. Participants included teachers, community leaders, youth associations, school committees, Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC) committees, church groups, and health personnel. The innovative and empowering approach uses a story-telling methodology (the "String Game") to communicate the intimate secrets and key risk factors involved in HIV. Life-skills education in Swazi schools, supported by UNICEF, has also had a strong HIV/AIDS awareness component.

Keeping children in school

Factual as well as anecdotal evidence shows that children are dropping out of school as the current crisis slices away people’s coping strategies. To keep children to their desks and make schools safe and healthy, UNICEF is targeting schools in the drought- affected areas in each country with a number of interventions including school gardens, rehabilitation of latrines and water supply sources, provision of learning and teaching material, and advocacy.

Malawi: Water supply systems have been rehabilitated in six primary schools in two drought-affected districts. UNICEF has provided educational and recreational supplies to 85 primary schools. More school-in-a-box kits have been ordered for another 85 schools. As funding becomes available, a further 200 schools will be added to the list of recipient institutions.

Mozambique: Plans are underway to implement a water and sanitation improvement scheme in primary schools in the drought-affected areas, prioritizing the 32 primary schools currently part of WFP’s school feeding programme. UNICEF and educational authorities have also pre-positioned school supplies in the drought-affected provinces of Gaza, Inhambane, Sofala, Manica and Tete. These include 177,000 pupils kits, 6,200 teaching kits, 590 classroom/school kits and 1,800 school desks. These much-needed supplies will be distributed at the beginning of the new school year in January 2003.

Zambia: Ninety emergency boreholes have been built with UNICEF support in areas hard-hit by the drought when more than half of all water sources dried up earlier this year. Primary schools and health clinics were among the sites for the wells. School-in-a-box kits are also being distributed in the Western Province. The Ministry of Education has expressed interest in obtaining additional educational supplies for wider distribution in the country.

Zimbabwe: Learning materials have been distributed to 53 schools.

Lesotho: UNICEF has provided school supplies for 180,000 primary-school children.

Swaziland: Three NGOs have completed a WES survey in six schools and project agreements are being drafted with UNICEF. Some 70 candidate primary schools have been identified for community Education For All grants, with 40 selected to start up the initiative in January 2003. The EFA community grants will consist of direct contributions to the poorest communities, as a grant toward school operational costs in 2003.

Feeding programmes

Malawi: UNICEF plans to support 90 therapeutic feeding centers (TFCs), of which 35 have been identified as requiring full medical care in addition to therapeutic feeding. These are located in some of Malawi's most affected areas. The remaining 55 will be equipped to provide basic therapeutic feeding with limited medical supervision. UNICEF and partners have revised all protocols related to supplementary and therapeutic feedings. These have been printed and distributed (by UNICEF). An extensive training of all levels of health workers, including district health officers, maternal and child health coordinators, and NGO staff on the use of the protocols is ongoing. UNICEF is providing F75 and F100, in addition to all the practical equipment (cooking sets, medical supplies) for the TFCs. Each admission also receives one blanket and one mosquito net, which they can take home upon discharge. The system has the potential to cater for between 4,000 and 6,000 children at a time. Main partners are all the main international NGOs, including among others: Action Against Hunger, SCF UK and US, Care International, Care Woldwide, World Vision, Emmanuel International, CHAM, Goal, Catholic Relief, and others. Prior to the launch of the Appeal, the European Union provided 900 MT likhuni phala (Corn Soya Blend) for children under five and 5,000 MT of maize meal for pregnant and lactating mothers. UNICEF’s intervention included milling, fortification, and transport of the therapeutic food.

Mozambique: UNICEF continues to support existing therapeutic feeding centres in seven out of the country’s 10 provinces by providing technical support, training and therapeutic food (F75 and F100).

Zambia: Plans are underway to set up 37 feeding centres in health clinics in the most hard-hit areas. Training of 100 health worker trainers has been completed. Therapeutic food such as high-protein biscuits and therapeutic milk are on order and will be delivered to the feeding centres.

Zimbabwe: Supplementary feeding is ongoing in all five drought-affected districts and UNICEF distributed a consignment of UNIMIX at the end of November. UNICEF has hired two international experts to train pediatricians and senior nurses on the management of severe malnutrition using WHO protocols.

Lesotho: Therapeutic feeding protocols are being reviewed and updated according to WHO standards. This will be followed by a training workshop on the new protocols to be conducted in 18 hospitals and selected health clinics across the country.

Preventing sexual gender-based violence

On 4-8 November, as a continuation of the Phase II of the Prevention of Sexual Abuse Initiative, training of trainers took place simultaneously in all six affected countries with technical assistance from Malitaba, a South African training consultancy firm. Following these sessions, a core group of trainers will go out to communities to train those directly involved in humanitarian assistance such as programme administrators, operations managers, truck drivers, food distribution monitors, etc.


Another priority for UNICEF is to monitor the evolving crisis through its impact on children’s nutritional status and school attendance.

Malawi: A recent assessment revealed a high correlation between food shortages and increases in drop-outs. Some 10 per cent of all male pupils and 10 per cent of girls have not attended school for 20 days or more. Some 14 per cent of all orphans had dropped out of school during 2002.

Mozambique: Monitoring of school dropout rates continues in 24 schools in drought-affected areas. The data is being collated at national level. Although it is still early to draw conclusions, the results will serve as a baseline for comparison during the next school year. Nutritional surveillance is ongoing through 30 sentinel sites in three affected provinces (Gaza, Inhambane and Tate).

Zambia: Data from primary schools in six provinces in Zambia shows dramatic declines in school attendance for both boys and girls. A community school in Siavonga district - an area badly affected by the drought - recorded a drop rate in girls’ school attendance from 75 per cent in April 2002 to 17 per cent in September; for boys the decline was from 71 per cent to 24 per cent. UNICEF has commissioned an evaluation task force from the government’s Gender and Development Office to conduct a rapid assessment on the reports of child abuse, child labour and child prostitution, factors believed to be contributing to school drop-out.

Swaziland: Training is underway for an "African Girls’ Education Initiative" baseline survey, which will be conducted in 16 communities, all in high HIV/AIDS prevalence areas. Data collection will be done on issues such as school attendance, child abuse, and school feeding.

The second round of Vulnerability Assessments Committee (VAC) surveys took place across the region from 23 November. UNICEF has given this exercise its highest priority and has actively participated in three major planning meetings in Victoria Falls, Harare and Johannesburg. The agreement that the assessments would be of multi-sectoral nature was a key breakthrough. The VAC surveys aimed to explore the relationship between food insecurity and other sectors such as HIV/AIDS, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, health, and child protection issues. In conjunction with the VAC assessments, UNICEF-led nutritional surveys are taking place in countries that do not have recent data: Lesotho and Swaziland, and Zambia in January 2003.

Other Highlights

Roger Moore visits Zambia

Roger Moore, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for more than 20 years, visited Zambia on 7-10 November to raise awareness of the plight of Zambian children and women there. Moore spent two days in drought-affected villages where UNICEF’s emergency response was responsible for constructing 90 strategically placed boreholes when half of all water sources in these areas dried up earlier in the year. Moore also urged the Zambian authorities to recognise the urgency of the crisis and reconsider their decision not to accept milled GM foods. Moore’s visit was extensively covered by international, national and South African media.

UNICEF responds to a storm in Mozambique

UNICEF sent tarpaulins to Beira in response to the shelter needs of people made homeless by the storm. These relief supplies were drawn from a contingency stock that had been pre-positioned as part of UNICEF’s emergency preparedness activities in Mozambique. A look at the records of disasters in Mozambique shows that the country is particularly vulnerable to climatic hazards. The experience of the past two years with floods has greatly increased attention towards emergency preparedness actions. The Government’s Contingency Plan for 2001/2002 was prepared for various scenarios, including floods, cyclones and drought, and the Mozambican authorities have worked in close collaboration with UNICEF and other UN agencies to implement this plan, pre-positioning contingency stocks in strategic locations around the country.

Workshop on Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Country delegations from 21 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have been meeting in Windhoek, Namibia from 25-29 November to follow up on commitments made in the November 2000 workshop in Lusaka, Zambia, on Orphans and Vulnerable Children. As with the previous workshop, the meeting was jointly organised by UNICEF and USAID. Discussions focused on the crisis facing children in the region, largely as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and on the formulation of a plan of action. National government representatives led the country delegations. UNICEF Executive Director, Carol Bellamy and Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa presented keynotes.


As part of the UN Consolidated Appeal for southern Africa, UNICEF requested US$ 26.8 million to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected children and women in the six affected countries for the period of July 2002-June 2003. Of the appealed amount, UNICEF has received US$ 8.7 million to date, leaving a funding gap of US$ 18.1 million or 67 per cent of the total resource needs. In light of the funding shortfall, UNICEF has borrowed US$ 5.4 million from the Central Emergency Revolving Funds (CERF) of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to continue implementing its response activities in the region. It is important to note that the acquired loan needs to be reimbursed through donor contributions. The table below details the contributions received, by donor:

Income/Pledge (US$)
Country assisted
United States
Malawi, Zimbabwe
Malawi, Zambia, Regional unit
Malawi, Mozambique
German National Committee
Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland
Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia
Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Regional unit
UK National Committee
Regional unit
Zambia, Swaziland
Irish National Committee
Finnish National Committee
Regional unit
New Zealand
Swaziland, Zimbabwe
Lesotho, Swaziland
Zambia, Malawi
Spanish National Committee

In addition to the contributions shown above, UNICEF has also received funds through the regular country programme framework to support the activities related to the Consolidated Appeal. UNICEF is specifically thankful to the following donors for their generous contributions to support its ongoing interventions for the affected population in southern Africa.

Income/Pledge (US$)
Australian National Committee
Canadian National Committee
Dutch National Committee
German National Committee
Irish National Committee
UK National Committee

Further details of the southern Africa emergency programme can be obtained from:

Olivier Degreef
Office of Emergency Programmes
Tel: + 41 22 909 5546
Fax: + 41 22 909 5902
E-mail: odegreef@unicef.org

Dan Rohrmann
Programme Funding Office
Tel: + 1 212 326 7009
Fax: + 1 212 326 7165
E-mail: drohrmann@unicef.org

Urban Jonsson
UNICEF Nairobi
E-mail: ujonsson@unicef.org