Guidelines for agricultural relief programs in Zimbabwe

Drought is endemic to southern Africa. Floods are common. In response to these disasters, agricultural inputs such as seed and fertilizer are distributed to one or another affected community virtually every year. Yet these relief programs are generally defined anew each year, and lessons gained from previous experience are lost. Following the 2002/03 drought in Zimbabwe, the need was felt for a set of guidelines to help NGOs and government agencies better plan relief interventions, and provide advice on strategies to help households and communities re-establish and strengthen their farming operations. The guidelines were drafted by a voluntary committee of NGOs and international institutes.

This publication summarizes current advice on the design and implementation of agricultural relief programs in Zimbabwe. It covers various aspects - geographical and household targeting, what inputs should be provided, procurement and distribution methods, and monitoring and evaluation systems. The Guidelines primarily deal with the provision of crop inputs and technical advice, but livestock assistance is also discussed. They are written specifically for Zimbabwe, but much of the advice is relevant to neighboring countries, and thus suitable for broad application.

These Guidelines will continue to evolve and expand over the next few years, with improved advice on input packages, additional information on micro-irrigation systems and nutrition gardens, and suggestions for specialized assistance to households affected by HIV/AIDS. Readers are therefore encouraged to provide the authors with feedback for improving these Guidelines: corrections, lessons drawn ongoing relief programs, and suggestions of additional advice.

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