Zimbabwe: Humanitarian Report - Feb 2005

Report
from UN Country Team in Zimbabwe
Published on 28 Feb 2005
Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Visits CAP 2004 Funded Projects

Following the appeal by the government of Zimbabwe for donor assistance towards the extended Consolidated Appeal coordinated by the Humanitarian Coordinator's Office and launched in April 2004, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare proposed to visit NGO 2004 CAP funded projects. The aim was to appreciate the impact that the projects implemented had on the beneficiary population.

Prior to the visit and working in conjunction with the Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator, the Ministry communicated with the implementing NGOs primarily in Manicaland, Midlands and Matebeleland. Other provinces are yet to be visited. In Manicaland, some initiatives were commended highly. The Ministry officials highlighted the need for organisations to replicate some of the initiatives such as the SAFIRE OPV seed multiplication project.

These visits were an eye opener for some officials in the Ministry as they came in contact with the beneficiaries of NGO assistance. They also got an opportunity to hear the beneficiaries points of view on aid received.

Social Welfare's official Mr Turugari's view was that most projects were value for money. He cited OXFAM, working in partnership with Mvuramanzi in some projects, as an excellent model. ORAP was also said to be doing a very good job as well as being very transparent. In his view, most organizations had available and transparent financial statements.

He noted that even after the emergency period is over, he would still want to work with NGOs that put to good use the money that they source from donors.

Situation of Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Zimbabwe: a Challenge for Humanitarian Organizations

Estimates by UNICEF, UNAIDS and USAID indicate that Zimbabwe had 1.3 million orphans in 2003. The preliminary results of the nationwide OVC baseline survey conducted by the Government and UNICEF Harare in 2004 reveal that slightly over 30% of all children 0-17 have lost one or both parents. Level of vulnerability also differs from one area to another due to variations in socio-economic and cultural factors.

A snap shot survey by Farm Orphan Support Trust (FOST) in 2001 indicated that there was an average of 12 orphaned children in every commercial farm in Zimbabwe. Within the following year, this figure had become 17 per farm. Studies indicate that currently there are 25 orphaned children per former commercial farm.

Over 60% of orphaned children live with grand parents in Zimbabwe (UNICEF 2003). The remaining are cared for by their surviving parent, other relatives and siblings. The Census of 2002 found close to 50,000 child headed households and 100,000 children living in a child headed household.

Two other surveys by FOST in Chipinge district and Mashonaland central province in 2003 revealed that between 17 - 24% of all children in existing farm communities are orphaned. Over 72% of all vulnerable households on commercial farms are headed by women and 10% are orphan-headed. This is higher than the national average figure of female headed household which is 33% as recorded by UNICEF. About 74% of orphaned children in commercial or former commercial farms do not have a birth certificate. 26% of school-aged OVC are not attending school and 13% of school aged OVC who were attending school, dropped out in the past year.

OVC in former commercial farming communities experience poor access to health care and other social services. This is partly a result of poor provision within the former farming areas. Vulnerable households are not in a position to afford even the smallest of user charges for health care, nor to pay the high transport costs to reach the few existing facilities.

A research commissioned by UNDP in 2001 on land reform and resettlement found out that older orphans are drifting to towns to add to the expanding population of street children. Young girls end up engaging in prostitution. The research also acknowledges the limited capacity of Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to provide support to orphans due to limited resources

Two major assessments were undertaken in 2004 that will contribute to the knowledge base on the situation of OVC in Zimbabwe. The first is the Rapid Assessment, Analysis and Action Planning Process (RAAAP) Report funded by UNICEF, USAID, UNAIDS, and WFP. The report is a comprehensive source of existing information on the situation of OVC as well as on the legal and organizational capacities that exist within the country to support OVC. The assessment found 48 local and international NGOs which are providing a wide variety of support to OVC, including educational, health, food, psychosocial, financial and legal assistance. The second assessment is the abovementioned OVC baseline survey. The survey covered over 12,000 households nationwide and will provide a wealth of information on schooling, nutrition and health status as well as family circumstances, HIV/AIDS knowledge, and sexual behavior of OVC in Zimbabwe. The preliminary report is due in early April 2005.

Organizations such as FOST, Save the Children UK, World Vision and UNICEF have been spearheading projects to improve the welfare of orphans and vulnerable children. UNICEF places preventing HIV and ensuring the rights of orphans and vulnerable children as central in their 2005 - 2006 program. They have supported a network of Community Based Organizations and government of Zimbabwe to ensure access to care and support for orphans and vulnerable children. The main areas of support have been in access to education and obtaining registration documents, psychosocial support as well as development of life skills.

A key milestones in addressing the problem of OVC has been the production of a National Plan of Action for 2003-2005. It aims to ensure that OVC are able to access education, food, health services, birth registration and protection from abuse and exploitation. This is to be achieved through a coordinated effort by government and civil society with children being actively involved in the planning and implementation of the plan.

One glaring challenge that needs to be addressed is the varying level of vulnerability even within the orphan population. As indicated by the FOST survey, orphans in some communities such as former commercial farms experience more problems due to limited services and depleted incomes that used to be the main support for livelihoods. In some former commercial farms which are now resettlement areas, services such as schools, clinics and clean water sources are non existent or very far from settlements and orphans are likely to be more disadvantaged compared to other children. It is a great challenge for the humanitarian community to come up with programs that take note of the varying levels of vulnerability which should be informed by comprehensive assessments.

DFID Contributes to Malaria Control

A new agreement between UNICEF and DFID promises to have a significant impact on malaria in Zimbabwe. After HIV/AIDS, malaria is the biggest killer of under-five children in Zimbabwe. Records from the Ministry of health and Child Welfare show that last year by week 52, malaria killed more than 1,100 people through out the country and more than 750,000 cases were recorded for the year 2004. For week 6 of 2005, malaria cases continue to rise with cases now at 18,933 and 24 deaths. The estimated one million cases of malaria each year in Zimbabwe are a serious threat to pregnant women and newborns, the leading cause of work-absence due to illness, and a severe negative impact on economic growth. There is no single way of preventing malaria. Increasingly mosquitoes are becoming resistant to existing basic or commonly used drugs such as chloroquine, and an effective vaccine is considered years away. One of the ways to address malaria problem is mitigation, specifically through the use of insecticide treated nets (ITNs) treated nets.

Across the globe, DFID is a strong supporter of malaria prevention, and now will assist Zimbabwe through a donation of £1,5million given to UNICEF. The funds will be used to prevent and reduce morbidity and mortality attributed to malaria among children under five and pregnant women in 17 districts, by providing 400,000 insecticide treated nets (ITNs) and boosting community social mobilization. OVC will receive special attention, and the funds will augment existing DFID funds to WHO/AFRO and Norway funds to UNICEF.

With the inception of the global partnership to Roll Back Malaria (RBM) in October 1998, ITNs were adopted as one of the key tools for reducing the burden of malaria in Africa. DFID was one of the key donors to this initiative. At the Africa Summit on Roll Back Malaria in Abuja, Nigeria in April 2000, heads of state and senior representatives from 44 malaria-afflicted countries agreed to a goal of providing ITNs to at least 60 percent of those at risk of malaria, particularly pregnant women and children under five, by 2005. UNICEF's aim in Zimbabwe is that with DFID funding it can make great inroads into meeting some of the Abuja goals. Currently less than one in ten Zimbabwean children under five sleep under treated nets.

However, the challenges in scaling-up and sustaining ITN coverage are not simply financial. A culture of ITN use must be established. People living in malaria-endemic areas must come to value and demand ITNs.

UNICEF's experience demonstrates that with good promotion - and affordable prices - the use of bed nets can increase rapidly. As such, the distribution of nets must merge with the training of health personnel and education campaigns for local people so that they may inform their communities about malaria prevention.

Humanitarian Working Groups

The Humanitarian Community is meeting on a regular basis to analyse the current humanitarian situation and response and improve the response provided to the most vulnerable for coordination purposes. Humanitarian Working Groups have been set up by sectors as follows:

- Water and Sanitation

- Child Protection

- Nutrition

- Inter-Agency Coordination Committee on health

- Education

- Agricultural Coordination

Each working group normally meets once every month for sharing information. Participation in the working groups is broad based and most of the groups include key government ministries that lead the particular sector.

At a recent meeting under the chairmanship of the UN RC/HC with Donors and NGOs, a number of issues have been raised regarding the current performances of the existing humanitarian working groups:

- Unclear accountability for the process. The meetings remain essentially information sharing forums; The low level of government participation in some working group affects the strategy discussion;

- No systematic contribution to the "Who does what where? "

- Most working groups have a focus on attending to immediate operational priorities and less effort on strategic focus;

- Irregular participation by the members;

- Insufficient attention on HIV/AIDS;

- Lack of inter-action between working groups. This includes the need for closer collaborative efforts.

Recommendations:

- Direct reporting by chair of each working group to the Humanitarian UNCT through the Humanitarian Support Team;

- Revival of the UN/Government forum addressing social services needs and humanitarian care;

- Identify better existing gaps in the assistance delivery;

- Separate the operational information sharing with the policy development process by creating ad hoc sub committees within existing working groups;

- Address better in each working groups the HIV and AIDS short term response component and analyze the possibility of creating a specific working group dedicated to mainstream humanitarian thinking into the planning phase of HIV/AIDS responses.

The Humanitarian Support Team publishes a calendar showing meeting dates and contact persons for each working group on the last page of each news letter

UNDP Funds EPR Project

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has approved a project to assist the government of Zimbabwe to strengthen disaster management and risk reduction capacity.

The project which will run for three years 2005 -2007 has a total budget of US$510 000. UNDP has allocated US$424000 and the government's contribution to the project will be US$86 000 mostly in kind.

The project will be implemented under the National Execution modality by the Civil Protection Unit, which is under the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing in close partnership with UNDP and other stakeholders. The project focuses on five main areas which are :

- institutional capacity needs assessments

- disaster risk assessment

- updating the national strategy and disaster management

- support to the legislative and policy development

- institutional strengthening

The target beneficiaries include central government through the Department of Civil Protection, local government through the provincial and district disaster management committees and the local population at grassroots level through local authorities. The intended project out come is an enhanced capacity of the government at all levels to support local communities to be better prepared for disasters and be more effective in responding to disasters when they occur.

UNDP's support will be in the form of funding, technical assistance from local and international experts, equipment and other necessary accessories. Whilst the project is planned for three years, it is anticipated that the implementation of disaster risk management activities will continue on the basis of information obtained during the capacity needs and hazard assessments. More resources will be required and the intention is to ensure sustainability of risk reduction activities.

Food Security Brief

According to agro-meteorological bulletins from the department of meteorological services, the 2004/05 summer season generally started late. By mid January 2005, most of the country had received less rainfall than normal.

There were between 60 000 - 70 000 Mt maize seed available in the country through GMB, ARDA and the open market. The available seed was enough to potentially plant between 2.4 Million - 2.8 Million ha. However, because of logistical problems it is highly unlikely that all the seed was distributed to farmers.

Generally the seed was distributed late, in most cases in December and January. Indications are that there is still some maize seed at various GMB depots around the country, therefore the amount of seed which was actually delivered to farmers may be far much less. Considering the fact that some of the seed which was distributed through was long to medium season varieties, farmers will not be able to effectively take advantage of the wet spell experienced during the last half of January to plant more crops. The general problems which affected production during the 2003/04 agricultural season are persisting. These are shortage of tractors, tillage equipment and draught power in most provinces; acute shortage of ammonium nitrate; shortage and high cost of labour on farms.

NANGO Petitions President

The National Association of Non Governmental Organisations in Zimbabwe (NANGO) has written a petition to the President not to give assent to the non-governmental organization bill. The NGO bill was passed by Parliament late last year and is now awaiting the President to assent by signing.

Part of the petition sent on 28 January 2005 reads; "Your Excellency, we appeal to you not to assent to the non-governmental organization bill because of its devastating effects on ordinary citizens, the economy and the image of the country. According to NANGO, concerns raised by NGOs and discussed with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare as well as the Parliament of Zimbabwe were not reflected in the amendments made on the bill.

The bill generated a lot of debate on issues of governance, registration process and requirements as well as banning of foreign funding for human rights work.

When the NGO bill was gazzetted in August 2004, there was very little of what was discussed and agreed on between the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and NGOs through NANGO. The Parliamentary Legal Committee also compiled an adverse report on the bill but the bill was still passed with little amendments.

UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Zimbabwe

Contributions from GoZ, NGOs, International Organizations, or private sector groups are welcome.

Articles for publication in the next Situation Report should be submitted by 24 March 2005 to our office at the email address: Zimrelief.info@undp.org