Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 13 Jan 2003

Situation Report
Originally published
UN Special Envoys to revisit Zimbabwe
Mr. James Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme and Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, and Mr Stephen Lewis, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for HIV/AIDS in Africa, will visit in Zimbabwe from 23 to 25 January 2003. This visit will also include missions to Angola and Ethiopia. The main concerns of the visit will be to:
  • Review the humanitarian environment in the region, taking note of operational achievements, assessments, co-ordination structures and contingency plans.

  • Review the impact of HIV on the Southern Africa crisis.

  • Identify the medium and long-term priorities within the region in food security, HIV and the capacity of the health sector.

  • Address new or unresolved operational issues, including gaps in programming and funding.

The Special Envoys will be accompanied by a team that includes Ms. Julia Taft, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Mr. Rashid Khalikov, Deputy Director of OCHA, and Ms. Judith Lewis, Co-ordinator for the Crisis in Southern Africa and WFP Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.

ZimVAC vulnerability assessment completed

The December 2002 ZimVAC assessment indicated that the food security situation has deteriorated in all parts of the country. The assessment of population in need of food aid through March 2003 has increased from 6.7 million to 7.2 million (850,000 urban, 929,000 current and former commercial farm workers, and 5.4 million rural people). ZimVAC estimated that the national food deficit could be expected to reach up to 222,068MT.

The assessment further established that distribution of GMB imports at the community level is inconsistent with imports reported at the national level. It was noted that at sub-national level, availability of a wide range of basic commodities continues to be limited. Forty percent (40%) of the communities visited reported that cereals were "not or rarely" available from the GMB and/or market. The Assessment concluded that cereal is extremely scarce at the community level, despite reported numbers indicating a greater level of importation.

GoZ officially report the purchase of 1,180,000MT of maize during the period of February and December 2002. Of this total, 700,000MT was reported to have been imported and 480,000MT are still to come. According to the ZimVAC, the country is experiencing rapid macro economic decline as evidenced by annual inflation rates of 180%, a parallel market exchange rate of over 2,700% more than the official rate, and the reported estimated GDP decline of 12% in 2002. This is further compounded by rampant fuel shortages and shortage of foreign currency. This is likely to hamper Government plans to meet its food import plans.

WFP plans to reach over 4 million beneficiaries

WFP plans to reach more than 4 million people in 49 districts during January 2003. Reaching this target will depend very largely on the timely arrival of food shipments. Current in-country stocks of cereals are still very low. The Agency indicated that the current importation process of relief food is cumbersome and time-consuming. There is a significant need to streamline the process for the issuance of import permits for relief food.

WFP reported that it will begin a pilot feeding programme in five of the most vulnerable high-density areas in Harare. The programme will be implemented by international NGOs in conjunction with municipal clinics. Focus is on feeding underweight children below the age of six.

WFP has noted that the Grain Marketing Board's monopoly on cereal imports remains a controversial issue. GoZ's review of this matter is strongly encouraged. Furthermore, the price for next year's maize crop has not been set, which means farmers who sell to GMB do not know if they will be able to recover their production costs. Failure to set a realistic price ahead of the planting season will negatively impact the size of the coming maize crop.

The Humanitarian Co-ordinator and Government are in the process of developing an accepted means of ensuring access to detailed information on actual and planned overall levels and location, timing and volume of UN, NGO and GoZ food deliveries. This will serve to enhance planning of humanitarian deliveries through greater transparency.

2002/2003 agricultural season

Area planted

GoZ reported that the estimated area put under crops as of 31 December is 1,548,370ha compared to ZimVAC findings of 879,366ha in early December. This is a 76% increase over the first estimate, but still only 65% of the area planted in 2001/2002.

Seed Delivery

A co-ordination meeting on Emergency Agricultural Inputs providing agricultural input assistance to smallholder farmers was held on 9 January 2003. FAO reported that for the targeted 47,880 households, 88% of the seed was delivered and distributed to farmers by 31 December 2002. As of 11 December 2002, GoZ had delivered about 18,132MT of maize seed to 442,498 beneficiaries in all provinces. FAO reported that 1,046,651 (61%) households out of 1,704,497 identified (based on August ZimVAC) had benefited from the FAO/NGO and GoZ agricultural input scheme (see table).

Distribution of Beneficiaries from the FAO/NGO and Government Agricultural input Schemes

Mashonaland Central
Mashonaland East
Mashonaland West
Matebeleland North
Matebeleland South


GoZ reported that the estimated national requirement for basal and top dressing fertilizer is 80,000MT of each. As at 31 December 2002, GoZ indicated that it had distributed 18,357MT of basal fertilizer and 7,053MT of top dressing. FAO and NGOs had distributed 28,700MT of basal fertiliser and 19,245MT of top dressing. Therefore, as of 31 December, a total of 47,057MT (59%) of the required Compound D and 26,245.5MT (33%) of the required Ammonium Nitrate had been delivered (excluding private sales).

Tobacco Crop

Current estimates for flue-cured tobacco show that only 26,500ha have been planted with an estimated yield of 80 million kgs. This is a 52% decline from production in 2001/2002 and a cumulative 66% decline since 2000. If this trend continues, Zimbabwe could easily lose its tobacco market to other African and South American countries.


Cattle continue to die in the Matebeleland North and South Provinces, particularly in the communal areas, due to lack of grazing. In other parts of the country, the cattle are in fair to good condition. However, the pastures could deteriorate after May if good rains are not received for the remainder of the rainy season.

Climate and Prospects

Prospects for the 2002/2003 agricultural season appear poor. The WFP VAM Unit reported that moderate El Niño events suggest that the current weather patterns may extend well into 2004, peaking in the first quarter of next year. For the remainder of the 2002/2003 growing season with a few exceptions, rain-fed maize yields can be expected to be low.

Given carry-over effects on people's coping capacities from the current crisis, anticipated below-normal harvests for the coming season, and the rapid economic decline, the Government of Zimbabwe and humanitarian agencies need to begin preparing for serious and widespread food insecurity for the coming marketing year of 2003/04.

Nutrition assessments and workshops

UNICEF reported that the rapid nutrition assessment is now planned to take place in February. A consultant has been hired to provide technical support to ensure training and fieldwork follow a credible methodology. The Nutrition Working Group follow-up meeting to discuss the assessment will be held on 16 January 2003.

UNICEF also indicated that 40 health workers comprising Pediatricians, Senior Nurses, and Nutritionists attended a training workshop on management of severe malnutrition. The aim of this training was to introduce the WHO protocol on management of severe malnutrition and come up with an action plan for Zimbabwe. Participants noted that:

  • Although an estimated 46,000 children were found to be severely malnourished, only a small percentage are admitted in hospital due to lack of community based screening and proper referral.

  • Institutions do not have the capacity to manage all the cases of severely malnourished children hence the need to develop the capacity of hospitals by providing the therapeutic formula, drugs, blankets and anthrpometric equipment.
Save the Children (UK) recently completed a nutrition assessment in Tsholotsho District. Indications are that the nutritional situation of the population living in the district is satisfactory at the moment. However, risk factors include insufficient food reserves several months ahead before the next harvest, potential for low rainfall, HIV/AIDS disease, regular logistics problems with food delivery and high prices for food.

Based on these findings recommendations include:

  • active screening through the out-reach system for detection,

  • referral of malnourished children under five years in all the villages,

  • including training for screening on MUAC use and Oedema detection,

  • installation of a formal referral system.
Orphans and vulnerable children are prioritised

Water and Sanitation programmes

The Irish Government contributed US$100,000 for an emergency water and sanitation project. The project focuses on improved livelihoods of Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC) through the provision of adequate safe water and sanitation facilities. This is specifically targeted at OVC in four districts (Bulilimamangwe, Gokwe North, Mt. Darwin and Buhera).

An additional 85 latrine builders, including older children and women, have been trained three of the districts. Training of community leaders in leadership roles and responsibilities, project planning and monitoring has been completed in targeted wards of the districts.

Child protection efforts continue

A Training of Trainers workshop, has been held in a joint initiative between UNICEF, WFP and Save the Child (UK). Child Protection Society, a local NGO, has been selected to co-ordinate further decentralised trainings with UNICEF and WFP playing a supervisory role. An estimated 2,030 NGO care-providers will be trained in addition to the ongoing decentralised training activities directly funded and technically supported by UNICEF.

In addition, UNICEF has officially launched the zero tolerance campaign against child abuse. This was attended by representatives from Ministry of Justice, Education, media and representatives from 20 organizations, including government departments, NGOs and the Child President of Zimbabwe.

UNICEF reported that a media visit for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) was organised. The visit focused on UNICEF emergency activities in Chirumanzu and Zaka Districts. The aim of the visit was to highlight the impact of the humanitarian crisis on children and UNICEF water and sanitation, education and child supplementary feeding programmes in the two districts. Footage from the field visit will be used for local TV programmes.

Disease Surveillance

Malaria increases

WHO is indicating that malaria cases reported in the last week of December 2002 reached 3,942, an increase of 19% compared to the previous week. The drug supplies are adequate at the moment. However, there is need to facilitate the movement of drugs from national level to the RHC level. The indoor residual spraying programme is in progress despite the fact that the supplier has not yet sent the required amounts.

Vaccines in short supply

WHO reported that the vaccine supply in the country remains critically low with some antigens expected to last just less than 2 months. WHO/UNICEF are making efforts to mobilise resources to procure these vaccines which will have serious consequences on the public health sector if not resolved in time. Outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases may threaten the lives of a large number of children (approximately 500,000 under-one-year-olds).

WHO/UNICEF and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare have intensified efforts to avert the effects of the crisis. UNICEF has facilitated a donation of some vaccines from Uganda, which are already in the country and efforts are being made to procure supplies from neighbouring Mozambique. These donations fall far short of the country's vaccine requirements for 2003. Donors are being engaged to mobilise financial resources to externally procure the vaccines. WHO noted that the MoHCW is planning to revert to the DTP as the combined DTP-Hepatitis B vaccine is proving to be too expensive in view of the critical foreign currency shortage.

Other drugs

WHO indicated that there is currently an 80% shortage of vital drugs in the country according to the latest from the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm). This will seriously affect the tuberculosis and rabies control programmes. Drug supplies under EU assistance are slowly being accessed, but continued monitoring of the drug situation is required.

Surveillance Activity

Weekly surveillance data reports from the MoHCW reveal that timeliness and completeness of reporting of epidemic prone diseases is very low (35% and 31%, respectively). Previous assessments also indicate that the data is neither systematically analysed nor utilised at operational level. The current training in Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response is expected to facilitate systematic approach to disease surveillance and response. Two national Training of Trainers courses have been conducted and training at provincial, district and sub-district level is anticipated within the first half of 2003. This programme seeks to train all public health sector workers, including those in the urban local authorities.

Diarrhoeal Diseases

WHO reported that the cholera epidemic still prevails in Beitbridge District. Thirty five (3)5 cases were reported between 31 December 2002 and 5 January 2003. Since August 2002, 1,193 cholera cases with 36 deaths have been reported. There are fears that cholera will be carried into South Africa due to the large numbers of people crossing the border in this area.

District AIDS Action Committees

The ZimVAC assessment noted that the alarmingly high rates of HIV/AIDS (33% nationally) continue to undermine national and household food security. In response to the crisis, the National AIDS Council (NAC) reported that most of the Z$5 million allocated to each of the 84 District AIDS Action Committees (DAAC) in the country has been used to provide vulnerable groups within the communities with food packages and basic items for home based care.

In several districts co-operation between the local authorities, DAACs and Grain Marketing Board has resulted in a quota system where the DAACs receive a specific amount of grain for distribution to Child Headed Households and people living with HIV/AIDS.

In order to meet challenges such as purchase of food, drugs and basic items, NAC has developed a registration form where the different villages and wards will register the need for food packages, toiletries and basic items for care.

NAC is also in a process of employing District AIDS Action Coordinators for gathering information at ward and village level. In addition, efforts are being made to establish and improve the communication and data collection systems at village level.

UN reviews the CAP

A CAP workshop, facilitated by OCHA, was held in Harare on 12 December 2002. There was a consensus that the context analysis, planning scenario and humanitarian strategy in the appeal are still broadly valid, though some revisions were suggested to strengthen and update the plan. Of particular concern, is the central role of HIV/AIDS and the way it affects the crisis by eroding the population's capacity to withstand and recover. As a result, the workshop noted that the humanitarian strategy needs to be strengthened in dealing HIV/AIDS within the context of humanitarian programming. Gender disaggregation in beneficiary/needs profiling and programming were raised as issues in tackling HIV/AIDS. In addition, donor representatives should be involved at the field level in the formulation of strategy, sector programmes and agency projects.

The final CAP Review document is to be available to the public by early February.

UNHCR assists GoZ with support of refugees

As part of the joint UNCT focus on emergency and humanitarian response, UNHCR indicated that they share the main goals of the humanitarian prerogative. In spite of the harsh environment, refugees continue to stream into Zimbabwe. An influx of 200 refugees per month mainly from DRC, Rwanda and Burundi in the Great Lakes arrive region. The 2003 refugee programme has been split into dual activities of local settlement, and care and maintenance regimes, in response to the current environment and type of profile of new arrivals into Zimbabwe. Care and Protection programmes are organized through selected implementing partners, the Department of Social Welfare and the UNHCR Office. The 2003 refugee programme has received an approved LOI from UNHCR Headquarters on a total budget of US$1,613,300.

The UNHCR is mandated to support the Government of Zimbabwe in copying with the needs of the over 10,000 refugees presently staying and seeking asylum in Zimbabwe. There are strong indications that the some of the Rwandese who are forcibly being removed from Tanzania to Rwanda as peace has returned to that country may come to Zimbabwe or trek down to South Africa.

Calendar of Humanitarian Assistance

Co-ordination Meetings, Working Groups and Activities

13th Jan '03 GOZ/Donors meeting, contact Annika Rosing, UNDP.
16th Jan '03 Child Protection WG: contact M. Huijbregts, UNICEF.
16th Jan '03 Nutrition WG: contact Stanley Chitekwe, UNICEF.
17th Jan '03 Food Aid Co-ordination Meeting: contact D. Sarupinda, WFP.
21st Jan '03 Meeting of Humanitarian Co-ordinator and NGOs: contact A. Timpson, RRU.
23-25 Jan '03 Mission of UN Special Envoys: contact Annika Rosing, UNDP.
24th Jan '03 Water and Sanitation WG: contact Maxwell Jonga, UNICEF.
27th Jan '03 GoZ/Donors meeting: Contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
30th Jan '03 FAO/NGO co-ordination meeting on Emergency Agricultural Inputs: Contact Morris Mudiwa, FAO.
5th Feb '03 Education WG: contact Carla Rosa-Borges, UNICEF
5th Feb '03 Nutrition WG: contact M. Huijbregts, UNICEF.
7th Feb '03 Urban Vulnerability WG: contact E. Vhurumuku, FEWSNet.
13th Feb '03 Child Protection WG: contact M. Huijbregts, UNICEF.

Contributing Organisations: WFP, FAO, FEWS NET, UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNDP

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

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