UNICEF Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report #9 (January-December 2019)



  • According to the ZIMVAC (2019) assessments in both rural and urban areas, a total of 7.7 million people (including 3.7 million children) were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in 2019.

  • Cyclone Idai made landfall on 15 March 2019, affecting 270,000 people (including 129,900 children) mostly in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.

  • With an annual inflation of 481 per cent projected in November 2019, most households are unable to afford basic foods (mealie meal and bread) and services including healthcare, water and sanitation and education.

  • 17,763 cases of severe acute malnutrition were treated in 2019 and over 1,500 cases of pellagra (vitamin B3 deficiency) were reported since January, exposing major nutritional challenges in the country.

  • Over 1.3 million people accessed safe drinking water in 2019 through distribution of water treatment materials and rehabilitation of boreholes, springs and piped water schemes.

  • At least 75,000 vulnerable children were provided with critical child protection services, including 920 unaccompanied children.

Situation in Numbers

  • 3,700,000 children in need of humanitarian assistance in rural and urban areas (ZimVAC, July &September 2019)

  • 7,700,000 people in need in rural and urban areas (ZimVAC, July &September 2019)

  • 270,000 people Affected by the residual impact of flooding (UNOCHA, March 2019) 129,600 children Affected by flooding (UNICEF, April 2019)

UNICEF Appeal 2019 US$ 23.7 million

Funding Overview and Partnerships

UNICEF appealed for US$ 23.7 million to meet the increased humanitarian needs in the country in 2019, of which US$ 16.5 million was for the drought response, US$ 3.7 million for cyclone Idai response (early recovery) and US$ 3.5 million for disease outbreaks. As of 31 December 2019, around US$13.7 million had been received, with a funding gap of 42 per cent against 2019 requirements. Contributions have been received from DFID, ECHO, UNICEF Global Thematic, Sweden, Japan, China, Italy, the German Committee for UNICEF, UNICEF Australia, UNOCHA, AfDB, US NatCom, and CERF. The Country Office also received a loan of US$1 million from the Emergency Programme Fund (EPF) from HQ, to support with the immediate response and re-programmed up to US$ 2 million of existing development grants to support the response.

Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

According to the ZIMVAC (2019) assessments in both rural and urban areas, a total of 7.7 million people (including 3.7 million children) were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in 2019. For 2020, the situation is expected to worsen so the UN and wider humanitarian community, in coordination with the government are revising the 2020 Humanitarian response plan with significant scale-up of response projected to address the significant level of humanitarian needs.

Almost 60 per cent of the water sources in the country do not provide access to safe water leaving many families to depend on unsafe or contaminated sources increasing the risk of diarrhoeal disease outbreaks.

The macroeconomic situation has been worsening in the country and the projected inflation rate as of November 2019 was 481 per cent. This hyperinflation has exacerbated vulnerabilities especially among children and women as households are struggling to obtain basic food stuffs and services such as healthcare, water and sanitation and education. The health sector has been severely affected and the protracted strike by health workers from SeptemberDecember had a significant impact on service delivery. The nutritional vulnerabilities of people particularly children and women are being exacerbated by the drought and economic problems in the country. Recent reports from Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) have shown exponential increases in cases of pellagra (a rare micronutrient deficiency disease) over the year and as of 30th November 2019, a cumulative caseload of 1,506 had been reported across the nation since January. In addition, the lengthy daily power cuts nationwide have negatively affected access to safe water and cold chain facilities for essential medicines among other critical services, increasing the risk of epidemic-prone diseases and vulnerabilities among children and women. Recent data shows a 24 per cent increase in reported child abuse cases and a 20 per cent increase in reported child sexual abuse for 2019. The ZIMVAC report of 2019 has also revealed that 8 per cent of children aged 13-17 were out of school due to pregnancy or child marriage.