Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 11 Feb 2003

Situation Report
Originally published

Joint Workshop on Humanitarian Principles
A joint workshop looking at Humanitarian Principles and Practices and their consequences in the current humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is being planned. It will be held in Harare in March 2003.

With the humanitarian situation set to persist, it is crucial to review interventions at this time to ensure that they are well co-ordinated and that they adhere to humanitarian principles and address the people in real need.

Facilitated by UN, OCHA, ECHO and SAHRIT, and bringing together all major stakeholders (GoZ, Donors, UN Agencies, and NGOs), the workshop will:

  • Raise awareness on the importance of humanitarian principles and the conceptual framework governing humanitarian interventions;

  • Highlight the position of vulnerable groups to ensure that they fully benefit from the practical application of humanitarian principles in interventions of these kinds;

  • Provide an opportunity for an exchange of learning experiences and practices among all stakeholders.

Drought conditions persist

The Rainfall Section at the Department of Meteorological Services have reported that the rainfall situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated. Due to the persistent dry conditions, much of the country is now well below the expected accumulated rainfall for the period October to present. Figures vary throughout the country with the southern and central districts most affected, in terms of both rainfall so far and crop development. These areas have experienced 4 consecutive years of poor harvests. Areas around Beitbridge and Gweru have received less than 50% of expected rainfall, and one station, Odzi, reported receiving just 28%. Gokwe and Kadoma have received above 90% of the expected rainfall so far. 20% of those stations that submitted data reported 50% or below of expected rainfall, while just 23% reported 75% and above.

Current status of rolling assessments

Nutrition and EPI Assessment

Fieldwork for the National Nutrition and Expanded Programme of Immunisations (EPI) Assessment is scheduled to take place in each of the 58 rural and 3 urban districts from the 10-22 February 2003. UNICEF reported that the National Training of Trainers workshops have taken place (29 January - 1 February 2003). This was facilitated by members of the Technical Task Force (MoHCW, EPI, UN Agencies and NGO representatives). During this time the survey tool was also field-tested. The survey intends to establish the following;

  • Child Nutritional Status
  • Crude Mortality and Under 5 Mortality
  • Child Morbidity
  • EPI coverage including Tetanus Toxoid for Mothers
  • General Food Distribution and Child Supplementary Feeding Programme Coverage
  • Breastfeeding Practices
  • Orphans

Catholic Relief Services carry out crop assessment

CRS carried out a mission to assess crop condition in four districts in mid-January 2003. The mission noted that in Muwera and Rusape Districts, the crop condition was generally good due to the fact that these two districts had received satisfactory rains to date. Expected yields are between 1 and 2MT/ha. However in Lupane and Tsholosho Districts, the maize crop was severely stressed due to little rainfall. Maize yields are expected to be 0.5MT/ha or less.

National Crop Assessment

GoZ is planning to begin a national crop assessment towards the end of February. This assessment will give a clear indication of the expected yields nationally and this will assist in programming for future food needs.

Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment

A Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment, organised by ZimVAC, is planned for March/April 2003.

Input distribution underway

FAO reported that all major seed distributions for the main planting season were completed by the 25th January 2003. A total of 47,880 farming households received seed from FAO through Implementing Partners. The types and total quantities of seed purchased by FAO are as follows; Maize (478.8MT), Sorghum (95.76MT), Cowpeas (95.76MT), Sugarbeans (47.88MT) and Rape (0.96MT).

In partnership with CRS, FAO sponsored six seed fairs. The last three seed fairs were held on the 31st of January 2003 in Murewa district and were focusing mainly on crops that can be grown during this time of the year. Such crops included sugarbeans and vegetables. 3000 farmers benefited in the Murewa seed fairs.

The quantities of seed purchased included 2.6MT of sugar beans, worth ZW$5.4 million, various types of vegetable seed worth ZW$2.1 million and as much as 4MT of maize worth ZW$1.6 million. All in all 6000 farming households were supported in the six seed fairs that were held in two districts, Rusape and Murewa.


FAO has purchased 603MT of Urea top dressing fertilizer using funds from ECHO. This will support over 12,000 households in the better rainfall areas in Agroecological zones II and III.

Winter crop

FAO is planning to assist approximately 100,000 households with distribution of seeds (vegetables, beans) to be planted in February - March. This exercise is funded by ECHO and will be carried out through implementing partners (NGOs).

WFP food distribution doubles

WFP have reported that in January 2003 they distributed a total of 42,430MT of food to just over 3.3 million beneficiaries in 47 districts. This amount is double that distributed in December 2002 and is the highest monthly achievement since the relief programme began. This brings the total amount of food distributed since WFP started emergency operations in Zimbabwe in February 2002 to 162,214MT.

WFP have estimated that nationally they expect to support up to 4.5 million beneficiaries in February 2003 and as many as 5 million beneficiaries in March 2003.

NGOs intensify food aid efforts

Save the Children (UK) established a food aid programme in Binga District in October 2001, providing targeted rations to the poorest sections of the communities. The project has since expanded to cover part of the population in rural Kariba (Nyaminyami) District, and informal mining communities in Zvimba District. The provision of general rations, and supplementary feeding run by the Catholic Development Commission (CADEC), has helped to keep the acute malnutrition rate low (4.2% in December 2002).

SC (UK) feel that while many of the difficulties associated with identifying and reaching the most vulnerable people are well known, in their own experience, one of the greatest challenges is the practical and ethical difficulty of excluding those with cash or other convertible assets, such as livestock, when those people can find little or no food to buy on the market. Free distributions of food are not ideal for that group, but humanitarian agencies cannot sell food, nor can they manage alternatives such as food-for-work when large numbers of people are affected.

In Binga, from January 2002, when food shortages in the markets began, management of targeted distributions became difficult. At one distribution point in Sinamagonde Ward almost 10,000 people arrived at a distribution point seeking food, when 3,000 people had been targeted. Security became a problem, and on two occasions distributions had to be suspended when crowds of non-beneficiaries hoping for food became too difficult to manage.

The value of being included on a food aid register also increases when food cannot be bought; and when all are competing to be registered, the incentive for corruption greatly increases. Meanwhile, the shortages push up the parallel market price of the little grain available, and livelihoods can be severely damaged in the effort to afford that grain.

Due to the increasing demand for food, Save the Children has had to increase beneficiary numbers to cover almost the entire population of Binga. However, this is certainly not an optimal use of aid resources. The experience in Binga and elsewhere points to the necessity of food aid and market supplies of food working hand-in-hand to address shortages.

NGO capacity building

A consultancy has been initiated to look at the need for capacity building within the NGO community. This consultancy will establish an analysis of what are the main capacity and management constraints affecting NGOs working in the humanitarian field in Zimbabwe. The consultancy will take note of donor, government and UN perceptions on NGO capacity as well as the interpretations from the NGOs themselves. It will also examine what capacity building work is currently being undertaken within the NGO sector and what the main gaps are. The final report is anticipated by the end of February 2003.

RRU provides more services

Despite not yet having RRU field-based staff, a joint validation mission (GoZ/UN Agency/RRU) to Matabeleland South took place from 30 January - 1 February. The team's purpose was to assist the community in dealing with an incident. A joint report has been prepared and is being looked at by the concerned agencies. The RIV section has most recently been in contact with one of the provincial Governors to assist the province by looking into vulnerability needs in the ex-commercial farming areas. A field visit to follow-up on this is being planned.

RRU is also in the process of setting up Community Liaison offices. The objective of these new offices is to specifically observe humanitarian assistance at the local level. These teams will provide objective information on humanitarian needs and practices that will be useful to all stakeholders. Initial plans are for field offices in 4 provinces although this can be adapted as the programme progresses to meet the requirements of the operating environment.

Zero Tolerance on child abuse

UNICEF is continuing its work in the communities to sensitize humanitarian workers, government representatives, teachers and journalists on the prevention of child abuse and sexual exploitation in the context of the humanitarian crisis. Training has taken place at national and provincial levels and in the districts where WFP implementing partners are distributing food. Since August 2002, the programme has sensitized 5,250 people. 10,000 music cassettes were printed and distributed to truck drivers as part of the relief efforts with music and messages on HIV AIDS and child abuse, child rights and child protection. This initiative is being jointly implemented by WFP, the Child Protection Society and Malitaba.

UNICEF has prepared a preliminary agenda for the evaluation of the Zero Tolerance Campaign against Child Abuse, which is going to be conducted in March with support from ESARO. Feedback from participants attending the ongoing workshops is positive, stating: 'they found it useful, enlightening and very relevant in the current humanitarian assistance initiative'.

The Zero Tolerance Steering Group is holding meetings with the Ministries of Public Services, Labour and Social Welfare, Local Government and with Justice to agree on common plans for 2003 with regard to care and support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and street children. They will be working directly with the communities, urban and peri-urban areas using the Community Capacity Development (CCD) strategy and strengthening the judicial component to the protection programme especially in regard to victims of child abuse.

Research on Satellite Schools presented

Research on satellite schools, commissioned by UNICEF and carried out by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture in November and December 2002 has been made public. The main aim of the research was to collect data on satellite schools, which are those schools that emerged as result of population movement following the resettlement programme, and the subsequent need created to facilitate access to education for children in resettlement areas. The survey covered a total of 38 districts and there was a 73% response rate (representing 252 out of 346 authorised schools, with a total enrolment of 47,396 pupils).

The satellite schools showed enrolment patterns representative of the national pattern (51% boys, 49% girls), however enrolment shows a decreasing pattern from grades one to seven. Hunger was identified as one of the major reasons for pupils dropping out of school. Transfer of pupils to other schools was also identified as a factor.

Generally, the findings indicate a lack of confidence in satellite schools due to lack of basic teaching materials and aids, shortage of trained teachers, poor infrastructure, and lack of water and sanitation facilities.

The findings of the research on satellite schools found that food assistance was identified as the only source of food for some pupils. This highlights the need to increase the scope of feeding scheme activities. A supplementary feeding programme by Christian Care, Care Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Social Welfare is operating in 28% of satellite schools but the impact is likely to be affected by problems of delays in food delivery and inconsistencies in food supplies.

This research highlights increased emphasis on satellite schools as a genuine priority not only in terms of food assistance but also in terms of a broader integrated education improvement programme including infrastructure improvements, teacher training and the provision of basic materials.

Supplementary Feeding in Primary Schools Nationally

UNICEF have reported that there are 12 districts where 100% of children in grades 1-7 are receiving supplementary feeding and 27 districts where only a proportion of school children are receiving supplementary feeding and 19 districts where there is no supplementary feeding for school children. There is a need to coverage of supplementary feeding in those districts where only some or no children are receiving supplementary feeding.

As a means of taking this and other work on education forward, it was agreed that a working group on education should be revived and membership expanded. The planned activities of the working groups in the short run include: A field visit to the satellite schools; and a direct link into the programme strategy and formulation of the RRU.

UN addresses recovery planning issues

RRU is working on a strategy for providing assistance to national recovery planning. A complete Recovery team is now in place at the RRU. In consultation and partnership with the relevant agencies and organisations, it is expected that the team will focus on two recovery areas in particular;

  • Food availability focusing on ways of opening the food market, increasing the awareness of the availability of indigenous plants and fruits, stimulation wheat production and promoting the large scale use of drought resistant crops;

  • Developing a strategy for better targeting and specific HIV/AIDS programming that includes; distribution of adapted food packs, low intensive agriculture methods, income generating schemes and safety nets.

Efforts stepped up on HIV/AIDS

RRU is working in close collaboration with UNAIDS to strengthen co-ordination and increase emphasis on HIV/AIDS oriented relief and recovery interventions as key programme priorities. The focus of this work is will be on mainstreaming HIV/AIDS initiatives in the country in line with priority being accorded by the UN and stakeholder community at large.

RRU has provided support to UNAIDS in reviving the HIV/AIDS working group and initiating a database on HIV/AIDS interventions, gaps in provision and funding requirements. This mapping exercise will compliment the working groups' efforts to ascertain effective co-ordination, networking and information sharing amongst all stakeholders. Proposals for the revival of the HIV/AIDS working group have been considered

Disease Surveillance

Weekly Surveillance data reports from MoHCW reveal that timeliness and completeness of reporting of epidemic prone diseases improved over the last few weeks - 61% and 65% respectively. However this is still below the targeted average of 80% for both.

Diarrhoeal Diseases

UNICEF reported that the cholera situation in the country is still uncertain with more districts reporting sporadic cases. Active surveillance for cholera cases is underway, involving monitoring of diarrhoea cases in Rural Health Centres. There is intensification of community health and hygiene education. General diarrhoeal cases were reported to be on the decline.


Because of the rainfall/temperature pattern in the country (intermittent rains followed by hot, dry spells), WHO reported that there has been a substantial increase in clinical cases of malaria. A hot-spot appears to be Mashonaland Central Province with a 90% increase. UNICEF is procuring 17,200 insecticide-treated nets, and is working with partners on how best to further contribute to the Roll Back Malaria Initiative.

Supply of Vaccines

WHO has reported that vaccine supply in the country is expected to improve once the vaccines on order have arrived in the country. The general vital drugs supply situation in the country remains critical with Harare city reporting that some TB drugs are out of stock in the health facilities. The malaria drug situation is unsatisfactory at a national level, with some provinces reporting stock levels varying between one month and 3 months cover. Efforts are being made by all major stakeholders to get a sustainable solution to the vaccine crisis.

UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator / RRU

Information Reference of Humanitarian Assistance Meetings
February 2003

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

13th Feb '03 Child Protection WG: contact M. Huijbregts, UNICEF.
14th Feb '03 Food Aid Co-ordination Meeting: contact D. Sarupinda, WFP.
17th Feb '03 GOZ/Donors/UN meeting: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
18th Feb '03 HC monthly humanitarian meeting with NGOs: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
24th Feb '03 Friends of Humanitarian Co-ordinator: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
28th Feb '03 Water and Sanitation WG: contact M. Jonga, UNICEF.

*The GoZ/Donors/UN meeting has been changed from previously published date. It will now happen every 3 weeks on a Monday as opposed to every other week.

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 February to RRU at the email address: rru.zw@undp.org

For additional information or comments, please contact the United Nations Relief and Recovery Unit, Harare - tel: +263 4 792681, ext. 207 or e-mail: rru.zw@undp.org