Zimbabwe

ACT Appeal Zimbabwe: Famine Relief - AFZW-31

Attachments

Appeal Target: US$ 4,514,428
Geneva, 18 July 2003

Dear Colleagues,

A joint UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) press release dated 12 June 2003 warned that in spite of an overall increase in food production in the Southern African Region, Zimbabwe can only meet 30% of its food needs in 2003/2004. It is estimated that 5.5 million Zimbabweans will continue to face acute food shortages. This is approximately 45% of the total population of 12 million and Zimbabwe's needs alone account for half the food deficit in Southern Africa. The WFP estimates that 1.3 million metric tons of food needs to be imported into Zimbabwe to adequately meet the needs of its population.

Zimbabwe has become a unique state in which the current food insecurity is not only a drought issue but results from matters including, hyperinflation, economic decline, high unemployment, macro economic policy failure and severe shortages of foreign currency necessary for the purchase of essential goods and services. Of particular note, are the prevailing critical fuel and food shortages and the impact of HIV/AIDS (national average in excess of 33%) that has taken its greatest toll on the most productive segment of the population.

ACT members, Christian Care and Lutheran Development Service - LDS have worked together in developing this appeal and intend continuing work in the same target districts as implemented under AFZW-21. This appeal addresses immediate food insecurity through food aid and also seeks to provide assistance that will help communities to recover from the current hardships and become self sustaining in the medium to long term. Christian Care proposes general food relief and supplementary feeding, agricultural inputs - drought resistant seeds, HIV/AIDS family kits, health & hygiene as well as staff capacity building and community training. LDS proposal comprises: food for work, supplementary feeding, agricultural inputs - seeds and rebuilding of livestock and construction of warehouses.

As this is the third appeal for famine relief for Zimbabwe the ACT CO is proposing an external evaluation to be carried out as soon as possible. Due to complexities of the Zimbabwe situation the ACT CO is also proposing some monitoring activities during the implementation of the appeal.

Project Completion Date:

C Care - 31 May 2004

LDS - 31 May 2004

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested

Christian Care
Lutheran Development Service
Evaluation
ACT Co-ord.
Total Target US$
Total Appeal Targets
2,214,299
2,230,129
60,000
10,000
4,514,428
Less:Pledges/Contr. Recd
Balance Requested from ACT Network
2,214,299
2,230,129
60,000
10,000
4,514,428

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:
Account Number - 240-432629.60A (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
UBS SA
PO Box 2600
1211 Geneva 2
SWITZERLAND

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address jkg@act-intl.org) of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind co-operation.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, Thor-Arne Prois (phone +41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone + 41 79 203 6055)
or
ACT Appeals Officer, Elsa Moreno, (phone +41 22 791 6420 or mobile phone +41 79 608 8133)

ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org

Thor-Arne Prois
Director, ACT

GENERAL DESCRIPTION of the SITUATION

A joint UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) press release dated 12 June 2003 warned that in spite of an overall increase in food production in the Southern African Region, Zimbabwe can only meet 30% of its food needs in 2003/2004. It is estimated that 5.5 million Zimbabweans will continue to face acute food shortages. This is approximately 45% of the total population of 12 million and Zimbabwe's needs alone account for half the food deficit in Southern Africa. The WFP estimates that 1.3 million metric tons of food needs to be imported into Zimbabwe to adequately meet the needs of its population.

Both the WFP and FAO have declared that while the food situation in most countries in the region had improved, Zimbabwe's food production this year was worse than in 2002. Measured against a five-year average, food production in Zimbabwe has fallen by more than 50%. This is a result of a combination of factors that include the socio-economic and political situation and the effects of the drought and floods (Cyclone Jaffet). These conditions are compounded by the decrease in production in the commercial farming sector affected by the fast track land reform programme. This sector produced only one tenth of its 1990's output.

The food security crisis is even further exacerbated by the impact of HIV/AIDS (national average in excess of 33%) that has taken its greatest toll on the most productive segment of the population (those between 15 and 49 years). This has also resulted in an alarming escalation of child and grandparent headed households. The disease doubly affects women, as primary providers in most households.

The Zimbabwean Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) report of 3 June 2003 claims that increasing maize prices as against diminishing income levels, increasing unemployment levels and skyrocketing inflation (officially pegged at 300% in June 2003 and expected to exceed 500% by the end of 2003) means that access remains a key issue in majority of households. Reliable independent sources and private sector economists claim that current unemployment is at more than 70% and see inflation at 1000% at year-end.

When available, the prices of basic commodities such as maize meal, bread and cooking oil on both the parallel and official market are prohibitively high. Last year's severe food shortages forced many people to use up their limited resources just to survive and three consecutive years of poor harvest has exhausted the coping strategies of rural and urban communities. The sporadic rainfall and midseason dry spell in the last planting season has not brought any respite,

Food availability even for those who can afford it remains problematic, as little is available through formal retail channels. Government enforced price controls designed to alleviate the plight of the poor is having the opposite effect and has given rise to a burgeoning parallel market. People are increasingly relying on the parallel market where prices are up to three times higher and escalating. For example, in January 2003, Government's Grain Marketing Board's (GMB) maize was selling in the region of Z$2,800/10kg and in March 2003 around Z$4,200/10kg, representing an increase of 50% over 2 months.

The same FEWSNET report estimates a harvest between 800,000 and 900,000 MT, leaving a national cereal deficit of around 1 million MT, of which about 700,000 MT is maize. Even with the GMB's commercial imports (160,000 MT) and food aid imports (80,000 MT), the expected cereal gap will still be 725,000 MT (of which about 580,000 MT is maize). Unless immediately addressed, serious food shortages are expected, particularly in urban areas and the already affected Matebeleland provinces and areas in the north along the Zambezi valley. Based on past performance, the Government's capacity to provide maize grain to both the urban and the rural hungry populations is greatly limited.

The WFP country specific report of 20 June 2003 states that the GMB's depots have scant supplies and are also besieged with transportation problems, often delivering about 30 tons of food every other two or three months for one ward with thousands of people. (In some districts, the GMB has been accused of actively discriminating against alleged opposition supporters in their food distributions). The report continues to say that in drought-struck Matabeleland, the food security situation remains precarious and in some areas people are eating Tende, a wild plant known to cause joint problems. Some adults and children are reported to be eating the raw corn-soya blend soon after distributions. Also remaining vulnerable is the majority of ex-commercial farm workers (estimated at over 450,000) who were not allocated land when the farms they were working on were resettled.

In the FEWSNET report of 6 June, the food situation in Matabeleland provinces, parts of Midlands and Masvingo provinces and the extreme northern areas of the country along the Zambezi is described as critical and set to worsen after June when the WFP distributions come to an end. Shortages of seeds for staple cereal crops, fertilisers, fuel and electricity supply, compounded by the continued shortage of foreign currency, diminishes production prospects for 2003/4. Seed and fertiliser are in very short supply with only about half of the required inputs likely to be supplied by the local fertiliser and seed industry. The balance needs to be imported but the foreign currency shortage severely limits this.

In addition to its negative impact on food supplies, the drastic lack of foreign currency reserves is making it more and more difficult to import other essential goods and pay for essential services. This, for instance, is increasingly affecting the health sector, with some of the outcomes being the lack of vital medical supplies and the ongoing brain drain of those in the medical profession. Another example is the state of water-purifying systems which are reaching unacceptably low levels and as recently as 22 June 2003, 16 people died from drinking contaminated water in the town of Chinhoyi.

The spiralling three-digit inflation experienced since November 2001 eats away at the buying power of households and has a negative impact on household food security for the majority of Zimbabweans who rely on the market to meet at least part of their food requirements. Again, the high rates of inflation coupled with relatively low interest rates are undermining the householders' ability to save and invest, thus forcing people to spend their limited income on basic goods and services. Employment opportunities continue to dwindle and an increasing part of the urban population is being driven into deeper levels of poverty. A recent shortage of cash throughout the country adds to the plight of the poor where the majority has to settle all their food transactions in cash. It remains unclear whether the shortage of cash is a deliberate monetary policy strategy to arrest the spiralling inflation or a case of the Reserve Bank failing to print enough notes to match inflation due to a shortage of foreign currency to purchase ink and the special paper for the notes.

Crippling fuel shortages that followed the collapse of the fuel deal with Libya late last year, are adversely affecting the Zimbabwean economy in every conceivable way with all sectors operating below capacity. Petrol queues 3 km long are commonplace and transportation for grain and other food commodities to markets is seriously hampered. More specifically, NGOs are increasingly being forced to purchase fuel in USD and store fuel on their premises simply to ensure that programmes are implemented without disruption.

Three continuous years of poor harvests, rapidly declining socio-economic conditions, inappropriate national policies, politicisation of food aid, poor access to farm inputs, depleting draught power and the high rate of HIV/AIDS infection are just some of the prevailing conditions that accounts for the continuing food crisis in Zimbabwe. If the situation continues, possibilities are high that the economy will grind to a halt and food production in the coming 2003/04 agricultural season will be greatly reduced.

Some recommended action (WFP, FAO, FEWSNET)

  • The Government and NGOs should embark on agriculture recovery programs to ensure farmers have adequate seed, fertiliser and draft power when the 2003/04 growing season starts.
  • Food aid should continue in the form of relief programmes, including free distributions, school and supplementary feeding.
  • Emergency relief programming should be integrated with longer-term developmental goals.
  • Food aid assistance should be targeted to directly assist vulnerable groups such as widows, orphans and HIV/AIDS patients.
  • Maize imports should be planned now to meet the potential deficit of at least 700,000 MT in the 2003/04 consumption year.

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