Zimbabwe, highly unstable and vulnerable, continues to be immersed in a profound crisis. For many years Zimbabwe prospered as the "breadbasket" of the Southern African region, net crop exporter and the world's third largest tobacco producer. Today Zimbabwe has one of the world's fastest crumbling economies. The crisis is aggravated by an increasingly HIV/AIDS infected and affected population, an unsuccessful Land Reform Programme and the overall rapid decline of social services. The UN has identified the crisis as a "triple threat" of food insecurity, poor governance and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
This situation has been further aggravated with the Government-led "Restore Order" and "Drive Out the Trash" ("Murambatsvina") Operations (from May to July 2005), which supposedly aimed at stopping illegal trading in urban and sub-urban areas across the country. As a result of these operations informal market sites, small businesses and allegedly illegal houses were demolished and large groups of people evicted. The UN estimates that 700,000 people have been directly affected by the operations whilst a total of 2.4 million people have been adversely affected by the evictions.
An estimated 2.9 million people are in need of emergency food assistance in marketing year 2005/2006 following a poor cereal harvest early in 2005. The resulting food shortages, rising staple food prices and diminished income-earning opportunities have led to an upward revision of the number of people at risk of food insecurity. Despite this, the Government of Zimbabwe refuses to formally appeal for food aid.
The European Commission will continue to support humanitarian interventions in Zimbabwe in order to mitigate the impact of an enduring crisis on the most vulnerable population groups. In accordance with its policy as a humanitarian donor, the Commission's response to the persisting crisis - a result of major policy constraints, continued bad governance, the devastating effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and erratic weather conditions - must be pertinent to its emergency mandate and type of response which is short-term in nature. In the light of above the principal objective of the Commission's humanitarian interventions in Zimbabwe in 2006 will be limited to alleviating the impact of the deteriorating situation on vulnerable populations at particular risk and to contributing towards strengthening positive coping mechanisms of vulnerable populations through integrated assistance, food security and water and sanitation interventions. As long-term programmes are a more adequate tool to engage in a recovery of a permanently food insecure population, a proposed decrease in DG ECHO's support to short-term humanitarian interventions is to be considered with a view to the funding allocated by the other financial instruments of the European Commission.The Commission's Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid (DG ECHO) aims also at supporting and enhancing humanitarian coordination mechanisms, in order to improve effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian response.
The proposed budget is EUR 12 million. The expenditure under this Decision shall be eligible from 01/03/2006.