Brussels, 23 July 2010
Today, the European Commission has adopted a € 15 million aid package to support the reestablishment of essential health and water supply services and to provide food assistance, short term food security and livelihood support in Zimbabwe. This new Commission funding decision will address these humanitarian concerns via a wide range of interventions including support to primary health care, the provision and distribution of vital and essential medicines and medical supplies, and support to the water, sanitation and health emergency response units. Part of the money will also be used in pilot livelihood support activities including cash transfers and voucher systems.
The Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, stated: "Despite recent improvements by the Government of National Unity, the road to recovery is still a long one. If we want Zimbabwe to get back on the path towards longer-term development, we will need to carry on with our efforts to provide clean water and sanitation facilities to the population, alongside our food assistance programmes."
In concrete terms, the dollarization of the Zimbabwean economy has improved overall food availability in the country. Yet, access to food is still difficult for those who do not have foreign currency. This is why the Commission is replacing food distribution with schemes aimed at injecting funds to improve food security through local purchases, in line with its March 2010 Communication on humanitarian food assistance. Over recent years, the EU has been one of the largest donors in funding emergency water and sanitation interventions, as part of the integrated public health approach to tackle potential epidemics (cholera, measles and typhus outbreaks are currently occurring in the country).
Since the implementation of the Land Reform Programme by the Zimbabwean government in 2000, the country has suffered from the collapse of its economy, leading to a sharp decline in agricultural productivity, soaring inflation rates and fuel shortages. The deterioration of social services in Zimbabwe over the past decade has had devastating effects on the population, which has led to a high dependence on humanitarian aid. The breakdown of basic health and water and sanitation services poses major health risks to the population, including regular outbreaks of cholera, measles and typhus epidemics, a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and a severely increased maternal mortality rate.
The European Commission is overall the main donor to the vulnerable populations of Zimbabwe, having provided €572 million in both humanitarian and essential development aid to the population since 2002. EU funding has benefited a large part of the population: Water and sanitation interventions have reached 500,000 people, health interventions 700,000, whilst approximately 100,000 have benefited from food assistance support. The essential drug procurement and distribution actions have reached up to 7.8 million people.
On 31st March, 2010, the Commission adopted a Communication on Humanitarian Food Assistance (See IP/10/404). This lays out a new policy framework for EU humanitarian action to strengthen efforts to tackle food-insecurity in humanitarian crises. In recent years, hunger and malnutrition have increased in the world; in 2010, over 1 billion people are considered to be food insecure. Of these, approximately 100 million are living in crisis contexts, and face extreme and acute food-insecurity and malnutrition that poses an immediate threat to life. The Communication states that EU Humanitarian Food Assistance will aim to save and preserve life, to protect livelihoods, and to increase resilience for populations facing on-going or forecast humanitarian food crises, or recovering from them. To do so, it will safeguard the availability of, access to, and consumption of adequate, safe and nutritious food for crisis-affected populations, including through the protection and rehabilitation of livelihoods.
For further information: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm