Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 10 Mar 2003

UN Coordinator and French Ambassador visit the field
A mission led by the UN Coordinator, Mr Victor Angelo and the French Ambassador to Zimbabwe, H.E. Didier Ferrand, visited a number of places in Mwenezi and Chiredzi districts 26 February

  • 1 March 2003. The main purpose of the mission was to commission two community projects funded by the French cooperation under the Assistance to Under-privileged Rural Populations Project (AURP), a community development programme being implemented within the framework of a partnership between the UNDP and the French Government. It was also an opportunity to get first hand experience of the magnitude of food insecurity in the area in order to help guide the co-ordination of the response to the humanitarian situation.

Water supply system for Chikombedzi Hospital commissioned

Mr Angelo and Mr Ferrand participated in the launch of the rehabilitated Chikombedzi Hospital water supply system that had been destroyed by Cyclone Eline in March 2000 and reconstructed through the AURP

Rehabilitation of the Chikombedzi Mission Hospital water supply system was identified and recommended by UN Resident Coordinator during a tour of the region to assess the damage caused by the cyclone. Chikombedzi area in Chiredzi South is one of the poorest, remote and vulnerable regions of the country. Speaking at the occasion Mr. Angelo said,

"Donor and government attention should be drawn to the plight of such vulnerable communities and the UN will help mobilize funds to continue the development and humanitarian programmes in Chikombedzi and other vulnerable communities in the country"s provinces".

Chitanga Dam commissioned

The mission met with Mr Phil Christensen, Country Director, Care International (Zimbabwe), on 1 March, to commission the rehabilitated Chitanga community small dam.

The project funded by the French Embassy through the French/UNDP AURP programme (with also some funds from Care International/DFID) will benefit 2,800 residents from the local community who will be able to resume using the dam water for domestic use, fishing, livestock watering and gardening activities.

Call to ensure sustainable farming activity

The French Ambassador shared with the community gathering at Chitanga hi concerns that while some gropus are building the community others are involved in destroying economic assets. He referred to incidents of poaching of game and the theft and/or the unrestricted movement of cattle that followed resettlement and has made the control of animal diseases very difficult. He also referred to observations of the lack of adherence to both grazing patterns and agro-ecological zoning that dictates sustainable activity for a region.

WFP distribution, Chikombedzi

On 27 February 2003, accompanied by a representative of World Food Programme (WFP) the mission observed a food distribution organized by World Vision International (WVI), as implementing partner of WFP in Chikombedzi.

It was found, through interviews to beneficiaries, that WVI have distributed a full basket regularly in this area over the last 11 months. 14 of the 31 villages in the area have been selected, only those in communal areas. It was observed that the distribution was very well organized and there was a significant level of support from the local communities in the form of monitors and people assisting with crowd control.

Due to inadequate rains and problems related to the availability of inputs the crop situation remains poor According to the mission the next harvest is expected to be largely unsuccessful. It is anticipated that this district will continue to require assistance beyond the scheduled end of the current WFP EMOP (June 2003).

The mission met with a number of those who have not been included in the targeted groups in particular, commercial/resettled farmers. It was observed that there exists a significant level of vulnerability within this group in this district. One farmer expressed his concern at the poor crop situation. While these farmers do qualify to receive food through the GMB distributions, it has been difficult for anyone to rely on this source of assistance because of the recent erratic nature of these distributions. The same farmer indicated that his family had received food from GMB only once in the last three months. The visit showed that there is a need to review definitions of vulnerability as many more people are becoming vulnerable.

Initiative to assess vulnerability in the former commercial farming areas

WFP has contacted provincial and district administrators in order to collect data regarding the number of former commercial farm workers and newly resettled farmers. Once received, the information will be shared with donors, Implementing Partners and all other stakeholders. This will be used to help make programme decisions.

Needs Assessment in Midlands Province

A team, comprising UNDP/RRU, IOM, WFP and GAPWUZ (the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe) has completed a multi-sectoral review in six districts of Midlands Province, at the request of the Honorable Mr. Cephas Msipa, Governor of Midlands Province. The team was sent to evaluate the situation on resettled farming areas. From 14-20 February 2003 the team visited Mvuma, Shurugwi, Mberengwa, Gweru, Kwekwe and Zvishavane districts.

The team found that more than fifty percent of the province has poor crop condition. The 2002/03 agricultural conditions have critically affected the maize production throughout the Midlands province, especially in the Zvishavane, Mberengwa, Shurugwi districts. Farmers also cite the frequent shortage of fertilizers as a determining factor to their 2003 production. The team also noted that there is shortage of food on the market. GMB deliveries to the rural areas have been erratic and rationed. Some areas had not received their allocations from October to date.

The team observed that almost all rural communities included in the assessment, are in need of food assistance throughout the province. Of the 55 households represented in the survey, in the new and old resettled areas visited, 100% responded that they had no access to humanitarian food. However, the humanitarian assistance received involved farm inputs (seeds and fertilizer). UNICEF/MOH, World Vision, Plan International and CARE International are undertaking Supplementary Feeding in some schools. However, there is need for a wider coverage.

The report looks at all areas including coping mechanisms and access to water, medical services and education.

Relief food volumes to increase

WFP plans to distribute the largest volume of relief food to date during March, which is traditionally the leanest month in terms of food supply. By this time of year, people have generally exhausted their coping mechanisms and even wild foods tend to be in short supply.

Subject to the timely arrival of relief shipments the March distribution plan calls for 60,000MT of food aid to be distributed to 4.7 million beneficiaries in 49 districts. In addition, other food pipelines (NGOs) will target another 800,000 beneficiaries in the rural areas of the remaining eight districts. The final WFP distribution figures for February are still coming in, but more than 54,000 MT were distributed to some 4.3 million beneficiaries.

Thanks to continued donor support, WFP is able to continue distributing a monthly ration of 10kg of maize, 1 kg of CSB, 1 kg of pulses and 0.6 kg of vegetable oil for each individual.

GoZ Interventions

At a joint GoZ/UNCT/Donor Meeting held on 24 February 2003, senior GoZ officials outlined and appraised the GoZ humanitarian assistance response. Two interventions were outlined, the Rural and Urban Public Works Programme (RU-PWP) and Grain Marketing Board (GMB) grain distributions.


The purpose of RU-PWP, as presented by GoZ, is to provide a quick response for the support of vulnerable households and individuals by cash transfers through labour intensive public works co-ordinated by local authorities. The elderly, chronically ill and disabled persons receive free cash allowances to purchase food. The able bodied work for their food. Households receive an amount of ZW$1,500 per month for 15 days work.

The programme covers all the 58 rural and 26 urban areas in the country. GoZ estimate that a total of 1.3 million households are currently benefiting from the programme.

GMB Distributions

GoZ also outlined the structure for GMB distributions. There are three taskforces set up to assist in the distribution of grain, as follows;

National Taskforce - responsible for distributing grain at national level to regions (southern, eastern and western)

Provincial Taskforce - responsible for overseeing the distribution food to all GMB depots and ensuring that the allocated stocks are adequate to suffice distribution to wards, institutions, GMB mobile units and millers;

District taskforce - responsible for overseeing the distribution of grain in liaison with local councillors.

GoZ officials also highlighted a number of constraints to GMB distributions as follows;

  • Inadequacy of grain with respect to the number of beneficiaries in need of food assistance.

  • Transport problems, particularly the delays associated with rail transport. In addition, transporters are shunning contracts with GMB in favour of WFP and NGOs who pay more than that offered by GMB;

  • The paying system to transporters has become difficult in that transporters now require cash upfront;

  • GMB lack support to enable them to monitor their distribution at grassroots level.

Matabeleland South Declared National Disaster

His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe has declared a state of disaster for Matabeleland South Province and some parts of communal lands, resettlement and urban areas in Zimbabwe. The declaration was gazetted on 7 March 2003 but was effective from 7 January 2003. The announcement outlined three components to the disaster namely:

  • Livestock vulnerability in Matabeleland South Province Inadequate water

  • Food insecurity and

  • Risk of water shortage in various parts of communal, resettlement and urban areas of the country.

Nutrition and EPI Survey: Fieldwork Complete

The fieldwork for the National Nutrition and EPI survey is now complete. The data entry exercise taking place at provincial level was completed by the 1st of March 2003. UNICEF staff participated in the supervision of the Nutrition and EPI Survey in 4 of the 10 provinces, namely: Harare, Chitungwiza, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, and Manicaland.

The following comments emerged from the areas that were visited by UNICEF staff during monitoring of the nutrition and EPI survey:

1. The enumeration areas and households were identified correctly

2. The enumerators worked till late in the field due to the unforeseen difficulty of identifying children aged 0-11 months and 12-23 months for the EPI coverage module.

3. In Epworth, a peri-urban area close to Harare, a number of severe malnutrition cases were identified through tests for oedema. This demonstrates the need to accelerate the intervention in peri-urban areas and urban settings.

It is expected that the report of this survey will be submitted to the Secretary for Health at the end of March.

WFP and other partners are awaiting the results this survey in order to work with all stakeholders to synchronise school, supplementary and therapeutic feeding efforts. Children under the age of five years continue to be among the most vulnerable groups and are subject to permanent physical and mental damage from even temporary food shortages. The survey will help prioritise these interventions.

Therapeutic Feeding Workshop

A technical meeting was held between UNICEF and the MoH&CW to prepare for a workshop of the National Technical Working Group on Therapeutic feeding. The workshop will take place on the 14th of March to harmonize protocols on the management of severe malnutrition, agree training guidelines and share implementation experiences.

Promotion of indigenous food in the local diet

The RRU Recovery section is interested in exploring and supporting a wide range of options that would stimulate the recovery of families from the effects of the unfavourable weather conditions, economic decline and social problems that the country has been experiencing. Based on available knowledge, the identification and promotion of production and utilisation of local food resources is one potential intervention in this regard.

The production and use of indigenous foods offers a natural food security net for rural households due to their suitability to the local conditions and affordability. A technical taskforce is being proposed to develop this intervention area in full.

HIV/AIDS, Youth Component

Richard Mabala and Robert Keatley from UNICEF Regional office in Nairobi visited Zimbabwe 24-28 February to assist the office in developing the HIV/AIDS youth component of the Child Learning and Life Skills (CLL) strategy.

Discussions with groups of peer educators and counsellors at school and college discussions with out of school children, revealed that a lot is being done but there is a requirement to strengthen these programmes

UNICEF have reported that due to the economic situation and new levels of hardship unemployment has risen, which has led to the increase in gold panning. Poverty has forced parents into persuading their children to go to remote gold panning areas, and this appears to be leading to an increase in abuse and consequent STI/ HIV/AIDS infections.

Behavioural Change Communication Strategy

A donors meeting on HIV/AIDS, held on the 27th of February, was attended by the representatives of the following organisations: JICA, CIDA, DFID, Netherlands, Oak Foundation, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

At the meeting, CDC made a presentation on a Behaviour Change Communication Strategy, called Mopani Junction. This "edutainment" radio series uses role-modelling behaviour change among young adults of age 15-29, to respond to HIV/AIDS and its impact. The radio series is presented through ZBC Radio 2, reachable in most rural areas.

HIV/AIDS/Life skills Workshop

The Strategic Planning Workshop for the HIV/AIDS/Life Skills Secretariat and the Regional Coordinators took place from 25 to 27 February in Masvingo. The meeting was attended by the Director for Research, Planning and Policy Development, members from the Schools" Psychological Services (SPS) and an Education Officer for Non-Formal Education.

It was agreed that there was a need to produce a manual on psycho-social support. SPS members are to be contracted to produce the manual.

Campaign against child abuse to be decentralised.

A training workshop organized by UNICEF for 38 local authority representatives and for traditional leaders was held in Masvingo 25-27 February 2003, on the prevention of child abuse and sexual exploitation. The workshop called for the "Zero Tolerance Campaign Against Child Abuse" to be decentralized to the communities. This is planned to start from mid-March.

The second day of the workshop was dedicated to childbirth registration where the constraints on birth registration were discussed. It was recommended that children should be registered upon delivery in the district hospitals. For the unregistered children, mobile units could facilitate outreach registration. Currently, 40% of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) don't have birth certificates, denying them access to basic social services, inheritance and/or property rights. Support for childbirth registration is being planned for the 2003 Child Protection Programme Plan of Action (PPA). A similar workshop was held for 50 representatives from the Ministry of Education as the first Training of Trainers for the education section which will be brought down to the provincial, district and community level from 12 March onwards reaching out to more than 4,200 teachers, parents and children themselves.

A Sub-Regional meeting organised by ILO, took place in Harare, 27-28 February 2003. This meeting was held to help develop a sub-regional strategy for reducing vulnerability by identifying problem areas, and discussing how available resources might be deployed to greater advantage in the region.

Further responses to crisis in Southern Africa

UNFPA"s Sub Regional Reponse

UNFPA held a sub-regional Humanitarian response strategy development workshop in Cape Town, South African, 7-13 February 2003 at which poverty HIV/AIDS and drought were recognised as contributing factors to a potential security problem in Southern African countries and constitute a threat to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and development gains over the past decade. The following were identified as key interventions for UNFPA in emergencies:

  • Advocating for respect of human rights for people in emergency situations especially women

  • Advocating for care and support of HIV infected and affected people

  • Averting maternal deaths through provision of essential and emergency obstetric services

  • Prevention and management of Gender Based Violence (GBV)

  • Generation of relevant population and SRH data for humanitarian response.

  • Advocacy for resource mobilisation

  • Condom programming for protection against STIs/HIV/AIDS and unintended pregnancies

ILO"s Sub Regional Response

A humanitarian response proposal for Southern Africa is to be formulated in March/April 2003. UNFPA Zimbabwe, Country Office has re-deployed from its programme resources an amount of US$378,433 for the purchase of essential reproductive health drugs and equipment as well as for technical support for the MoH&CW Reproductive Health Unit.

Muzarabani floods update

The major threat following the flooding in areas of Muzurabani and Guruve Districts is from malaria and diarrhoea. There is a high potential for disease outbreaks and thus interventions for mitigation are urgently needed. Resources are needed for the rehabilitation of water supplies and chemicals for dis -infection of drinking water at household level. UNDP is in negotiation with GoZ about the best use of a small grant for rehabilitation work following the flooding. Reports are also surfacing (10 March 2003) of flooding in Nyaminyami District. Save the Children (UK) reported that 55 people have been airlifted from lowlying areas in the district. SC (UK) are involved in moving water purification tablets and relief kits to the affected families. The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) SC (UK) are keeping track of this situation.

Cyclone Japhet

A field based UNDP/RRU team have reported on the affects of Cyclone Japhet in Mutare. The team visited two districts from 6-7 March 2003; Chimanamani and Chipinge Districts. In Chimanimani District the team accompanied officials from the District Administration to assess the damage. In this cash-crop area, they found that up to 70% of the banana crop, 50% of the avocado crop and 50% of the maize crop may have been lost. The damage is mainly in the lowland areas.

The effects in Chipinge have been more severe with reports of infrastructure damage to both housing and schools and serious crop damage of up to 170 ha. 60% of the maize crop has been estimated to have been damaged and damage has also occurred to beans, avocado and coffee crops.

It was suggested by the multi-sectoral team that toured Chipinge that if 5MT of short-season maize seeds were procured for the area over the next 14 days there would be adequate recovery.

WHO donates field water testing equipment

The World Health Organization (WHO), Country Office, donated field water testing and food sample processing equipment worth over ZW$16,940,000 to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoH&CW) on 25 February 2003.

The equipment, consisting of a PAQUALAB (mini field laboratory) with accompanying accessories and STOMACHER BLENDER (sample food processor) will be used by environmental health practitioners to check for quality and safety of drinking water and food in rural and urban areas. The equipment will be very useful in the face of outbreaks of cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases.

Disease Surveillance


Beitbridge has experienced an outbreak of cholera as from 17 February 2003. By 4 March 52 cases were reported. There have been 4 reported deaths with one confirmed. All cases have been reported outside Beitbridge town itself, (at least 15-20km outside the town). The district has set up treatment camps and a mobile team for the control and surveillance of cholera. UNICEF also visited the district to assess the situation.


Malaria incidence and deaths are on the increase with Binga, Hurungwe and Kariba having shown a sudden increase. Outbreaks have been reported in Bindura and Shamva districts. However no statistics have been provided but the affected populations are mainly the new settled farmers. The cumulative clinical malaria cases currently stand at 97 885 and 163 deaths by the end of February 2003. The spraying programme is still going on with some of the provinces having completed but with very low coverage mainly below 60%. The anti-malaria drug situation remains critical and Sulfardoxine + Pyrimethamine has not been procured as yet since the last report.

It is anticipated that there will be a malaria outbreak in the cyclone-affected areas of Muzarabani, Guruve parts of Masvingo and Manicaland provinces. There is need for emergency preparedness and mobilisation of resources for the expected outbreaks, adequate anti-malarial drugs, manpower, transport and insecticide.

EPI and Vaccinations

Funds made available by UK Committee for UNICEF (US$525,000) and UNDP (US$400,000) have been allocated to purchase BCG, DPT and hepatitis B vaccines to cover needs for 2003. New stock will arrive by end-March. Together with existing stocks of OPV, measles and TT vaccines, these new supplies will ensure that national vaccine needs are fully covered for 2003. Z$600,000 budgeted by MoHCW for vaccine purchase in 2003 is still available and may be used for field operations including training and supervision, since vaccines are sourced outside Zimbabwe and must be paid for in hard currency.

Liquid propane gas (LPG) fuels more than half of the cold chain. Where LPG has run out in peripheral health facilities, vaccines have been moved to district or provincial stores and vaccination services suspended. UNICEF will try to source LPG from South Africa using funds made available from government of Netherlands More funds are required for 2003.

Fuel for government vehicles is in short supply causing the cancellation or postponement of outreach services, vaccine deliveries, routine supervision and surveillance activities)

UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator / RRU

Information Reference of Humanitarian Assistance Meetings
March 2003

NB: Meetings are by invitation only.
Please contact the focal point person if you wish information about any of these meetings

10th Mar "03
Friends of Humanitarian Co-ordinator: contact A. Rosing, UNDP
12th Mar "03
UNCT/NGO Representatives/Red Cross: Contact Annika Rosing, UNDP
13th Mar "03
Nutrition WG: contact Stanley Chitekwe, UNICEF
13th Mar "03
Food Aid Co-ordination Meeting: contact D. Sarupinda, WFP.
14th Mar "03
HIV/AIDS Expanded Theme Group Meeting: contact Hege Waagan, UNAIDS
14th Mar "03
Humanitarian Information Management Meeting: contact Donna Muwonge UNDP/RRU
17th Mar "03
GOZ/Donors meeting, Contact: Annika Rosing, UNDP
20th Mar "03
Child Protection WG: Contact: M. Huijbregts, UNICEF
27th Mar "03
FAO/NGO coordination meeting on Emergency Agricultural Inputs,

contact: Morris Mudiwa, FAO

NGOs, International Organizations, Donors or private sector groups are welcome to submit articles to the Humanitarian Situation Report.

Articles for publication in the next report should be submitted by 19th March to RRU at the email address: rru.zw@undp.org

This Situation Report can be accessed on the Web at: www.reliefweb.int -- then click on "by country", then click on "Zimbabwe"