Zambia Humanitarian Situation Report 14 Jan 2003

The New Year begins ...
Addressing the nation on the first anniversary of the New Deal government on New Year's Day, President Mwanawasa spoke of the "intolerable" debt burden facing Zambia (in excess of US$300 million servicing this year). He expressed his concern about escalating food prices and announced that government was addressing it. President Mwanawasa added that it was irresponsible to claim that millions of Zambians would die of hunger. "We are now in the middle of the rainy season, fresh vegetables and other tubers are available for our people to eat. Where are the projected deaths to come from?" he asked. Further, he claimed that Zambia was "over the worst of the situation" as far as food supply was concerned.

... after a difficult 2002.

The year 2002 was a challenging one for the fresh-from-elections New Deal government. It was dominated by the second consecutive drop in food production (down 40 % on previous five year average), due to drought. By the middle of 2002 inflation was at 23.7%, the national currency had depreciated by 14% and the government had exceeded its budgetary limit by about K65 billion. Most of the targets were revised downwards, but still remained out of reach. By the end of year inflation reached 26.7% and economic growth had slowed, to around 3%. Bank interest rates had risen to 49%. The Kwacha was worth 14% less than it had been in January.

The release of funds by IMF (US$55 million) and other donors - EU, African Development Bank and Germany - in December brought almost immediate relief to the Kwacha - and some relief to many Zambians struggling to make ends meet 1 .

Zambia faced a daunting outlook on 1 January 2003: extraordinarily high food prices, with maize meal around double usual levels for this time of year; concerns over the prospect of another bad agricultural season after erratic rains delayed planting; and worsening rural poverty owing to the food crisis. Since 1 January, however, there has been some good news: the local currency has continued to gain value (up 15%) and mealie meal (maize) prices dropped by 10% in many urban centres in the first week or so of January

The drop in maize meal prices followed threats from senior government representatives that GRZ would intervene in the market if millers were unwilling to release stocks of sufficient maize to bring down prices. GRZ has also opened up import licenses for maize to new suppliers and removed the import tax on maize. It has also signalled that in future, GRZ reserves would also be directed to small millers.

Lack of information about commercial supply makes it difficult to predict price trends, but as Zambia heads into the lean season concerns remain that they are already very high.

The GRZ budget, in accordance with tradition, will be announced on the last Friday of January.

Zambia: 2002 economic targets and achievements (Bank of Zambia)

Visit of the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, James Morris, and the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis

James Morris will visit Zambia on January 27 and 28 accompanied by Stephen Lewis, the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, as part of a visit to several countries in Southern Africa. The objectives of the visit are to reassess the humanitarian situation in the region, review response efforts and coordination mechanisms, and raise international awareness about the needs of the region. Both Special Envoys have visited Zambia in recent months. Mr Morris visited Zambia in September. Mr Lewis visited in December; a report on his visit is in our previous Situation Report, of 20 December (available on

Program Highlights

Program Achievements since July

Since July, when the United Nations launched the Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal for Zambia, UN

agencies have made significant strides in boosting their assistance to those most affected by the drought. With the support and collaboration of key government and non-government partners, achievements include:

- Delivering around 30,000MT 2 of food to those in most need in hardest hit areas

- Distribution of seeds and inputs to 60,000 farmers, boosting a wider national effort to reach 233,000 vulnerable farmers with inputs for the current season

- Food for Work rations were provided to around 50,000 farmers in return for preparation work required to adopt conservation farming practices

- Augmentation of essential drug supplies to health clinics

- Distribution of over 100,000 insecticide treated nets, including for orphans and other vulnerable children.

- Capacity building: to re-establish nutritional surveillance; and in emergency Health Information System management

- A measles campaign reaching over 95% of the target group in the South (around 700,000 children) after coverage was found to be less than 60%

- Strengthened capacity in therapeutic feeding programs - supplies for around 3,000 children; training of 75 workers in improved management and follow up

- Repair of over 160 hand pumps and installation of 90 new deep boreholes - work on a further 60 is underway: a component of a wider effort by bilateral donors, NGOs and GRZ to repair or install over 1,000 water points

- Sexual exploitation awareness training for over 70 staff directly connected with food aid distributions (agency staff, truck drivers, etc)

- Around 3,000 MT of GM maize stocks in country have now been exported to Malawi.

Currently, UN agencies are reviewing progress, and confirming priorities for the remaining six-month period of the Consolidated Appeal. A key priority will be to strengthen linkages between short term interventions commenced in response to the drought with long term development efforts. It is critical that achievements and capacity building efforts are sustained in the period beyond the current Consolidated Appeal.

Agricultural outlook

It is still too early to be conclusive about the current crop's prospects. Given concerns about the El Nino event influencing weather in the region, and given the already precarious situation many Zambians are in following two years of drought, GRZ, UN and NGO agencies are putting into place a system to establish as early and conclusively as possible the likely crop production. It is hoped that by early February, systematic information will be available.

Relief food

A total of 3,875 MT was dispatched to implementing partners during the first week of January. Meanwhile, implementing partners (IPs) continue to distribute the food they received in December. Of the 23,000 tons of GRZ food to be distributed through WFP, 16,000 tons have been handed over to implementing partners and the remaining 7,000 tons are expected to be delivered in the coming week or so.

Some areas of Zambia - for example, Chavuma, Lukulu and Zambezi - are becoming difficult to access due to heavy rains, with parts of valley districts already cut-off. A total of 63 IFRC 6x6 trucks have been deployed to the field: 35 are operational in Eastern province and 28 in Southern provinces. The remainder will be deployed shortly, starting the high-priority district of Gwembe. These trucks will assist greatly in maintaining access to districts which are hard to access in January and February.

The WFP pipeline for cereals looks favourable for January to March. With the latest donor contributions, WFP expects to distribute 23,000 MT of cereals each month. The GRZ contributions of 11,000 MT will bring the January pipeline to its monthly target. A pressing need remains to diversify the food basket: funding for pulses, blended foods and vegetable oils are still required.

WFP will allocate nearly one million dollars this month toward NGO partners for capacity building, to ensure better targeting, distributions, monitoring and reporting.

A national Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy is being formulated. Meanwhile, scientists advise that the GRZ should maintain the current stand of not accepting GM foods.

Nutrition and Health

Nutritional surveys reported previously are continuing. Three out of eighteen planned district surveys have now been completed - Kalomo, Shangombo and Kazangula. A further 8 districts are underway. Most results are unlikely before late January. UNICEF has held a workshop on data entry and analysis from December 18 to December 21 for implementing partners conducting surveys.

In collaboration with other UN agencies, UNICEF is supporting GRZ and NGOs (Care Zambia and World Vision), to implement an HIV/AIDS awareness intervention for drought-affected areas in Zambia. The project consists of a communication intervention in food aid distribution sites. During the first phase of intervention, about 200 drama performers have been trained on the basic facts on HIV/AIDS, and equipped with counselling skills as well as skills to participatory approaches to theatre. Three hundred and eighty thousand brochures entitled "Know about HIV/AIDS" have also been printed for distribution.

Events calendar - 14 to 31 January 2003
Tuesday 14 January
15 h
UNHCR Interagency meeting
UNHCR, Lusaka
Wednesday 15 January
11 h
Humanitarian Working Group
Monday 20 January
15 h
Food Security Donors Reference group
Tuesday 21January
9 h
WES Meeting
Ministry of Local Gov.
Tuesday 21 January
14h 30
WFP Implementing Partners meeting
Tuesday 21 January
14h 30
UNHCR Interagency Coordination meeting
Wednesday 22 January
9 h
Emergency Nutrition Task Force
Wednesday 22 January
11 h
Humanitarian Working Group
UNDP, Lusaka
Monday 27 January
Tuesday 28 January
Visit to Zambia of the UN Special Envoy for humanitarian needs in Southern Africa
Friday 31 January
9 h
INGO Forum meeting
World Vision, Lusaka


1 Zambia is considered a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) with a foreign debt of US$7.3 billion. The country reached the IMF decision point under the Enhanced HIPC Initiative in December 2000.

2 Complemented by significant GRZ-sourced food, including 23,000 MT committed for relief in December.