Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 18 May 2004

Crop Production Figures Essential For Planning
The United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator has underscored the need for well-researched crop production figures for proper planning of programmes. In normal circumstances a joint FAO/WFP and Government of Zimbabwe Crop and Food Supply Assessment is the basis for estimating the size of the harvest. The CFSAM is only conducted with the agreement and participation of the Government.

When the crop and food supply assessment does not take place the UN is placed in a much more difficult position in terms of ensuring an adequate response. Should a food assistance need be identified later in the year, and were the Government to issue an appeal at that time, a very rapid response may not be possible.

NGO Agriculture Relief Assistance 2003/2004

Local and international NGOs in cooperation with international donors assisted communal farmers in Zimbabwe during the 2003/04 agricultural season through seed and agricultural input support. The activities were coordinated through the FAO emergency unit in Zimbabwe.

The Agricultural Relief Programme (ARP) assisted 985,000 communal households. Through the combined NGO programmes a total of 6,300MT of maize seed, 2,170MT of sorghum seed, 670MT of Pearl Millet seed and around 8,000MT of fertiliser were distributed.

The selection of households was based on the 2003 Rural Vulnerability Assessment (ZIMVAC), whose findings assisted in identifying rural households who would not be able to produce sufficient food for their domestic consumption. The aim of the assistance was to enable those households with cereal deficit to increase their production and reduce the family cereal deficit.

Considerable shares of the maize seed distributed in the 2003/04 season were Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs). Maize seed used in Zimbabwe is mostly hybrid seed. Contrary to the hybrid varieties, farmers can retain part of the harvest from OPVs as seed for the next season (up to three times). This approach is a component of a strategy that aims to reduce dependency on season to season purchases of new seed, often at a high cost, and sometimes of limited availability. It is the first time that Zimbabwean communal farmers are becoming exposed to these new varieties on this scale, and the real impact of such a new approach is still unknown.

NGOs and seed companies are undertaking efforts to train farmers on appropriate harvesting and handling methods to utilise the OPV varieties efficiently for seed.

Table 1 (below) shows the MT of cereal seed distributed in each province. The seed packs distributed to each household contained seed to plant one hectare, including maize, sorghum, millet, some legume seed and vegetables. In the higher rainfall areas the relative share of maize seed was higher than in the drier areas.

Table 1 Cereal seed Distributed in each Province in Metric Tonnes
holds Assisted
Aver. Pack
Mash West
Mash Central
Mash East
Mat North
Mat South

According to the first assessment of the overall costs for the assistance, by FAO, a total of US$10,300,000 has been spent in the Agricultural Relief Program to provide vulnerable farmers with cereal seeds and fertilisers.

It is estimated that the overall amount spent on inputs for the season 2003/04 is around US$19 million, and included the remaining cereals, legumes, tubers and vegetables, and fertilizers.

Poverty Fuelling HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe

The recently launched Zimbabwe Human Development Report 2003 identifies poverty as one of the humanitarian conditions that is fuelling HIV and AIDS making people more vulnerable to the HIV cycle. The observation is supported by research information that shows an increase in the levels of poverty in Zimbabwe. The country experienced a 12% reduction in the Human Development Index and has moved from the medium human development category into the low human development category. According to the report, the proportion of the population below the Total Consumption Poverty Line was estimated at 74% in 1995 and 2002 estimates indicate an increase to 80 %.

Various indicators of poverty show that the population has become poorer and more vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. Some of the key indicators that show an increase in the levels of poverty include:

  • Progressive worsening of social and economic indicators in tandem with the increase in prevalence of HIV and AIDS.

  • Infant mortality has progressively increased from 40 per 1,000 births in 1990 to 65 per 1,000 between 1995 and 1999. Maternal mortality has increased sharply in the past ten years from 283 per 100,000 in 1990 to 695 per 100,000 in 2000.

  • Life expectancy at birth has progressively declined from 61years in 1990 to the current 43 years.

  • Decline in life expectancy has been particularly evident in Midlands and Matebeleland Provinces.

  • Gender differentials in poverty are also reflected in HIV and AIDS prevalence and impacts. HIV prevalence of young women below the age of 20 is five times higher than their male counterparts.

This is partly a result of cultural and traditional beliefs that have rendered the girl child a victim of sexual violence increasing her degree of risk to contracting HIV and AIDS.

The report indicates that the major challenge is conceptualization of vulnerability and how organizations can mainstream HIV and AIDS risk reduction into development programming. The report calls for commitment at all levels of society to put in place development driven interventions that deal with specific vulnerabilities. This can be done by having policies that specifically aim to reduce vulnerability particularly to the HIV new infection cycle. International partners need to appreciate that development is inseparable from HIV and AIDS hence the need to mainstream development into interventions that are meant to address the problem of HIV and AIDS.

The government on the other hand, will need to have an open door policy to ensure that genuine dialogue for development takes place with all stakeholders. A multi-sectoral response to poverty reduction that incorporates HIV and AIDS risk reduction with development is imperative for winning the war against HIV and AIDS.

Social and Economic Vulnerabilities among OVCs a Cause for Concern in Manicaland Province

As part of the ECHO funded project on Community based support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), a baseline survey was carried out by Family AIDS Caring Trust (FACT) in four districts of Manicaland: Chimanimani, Chipinge, Rusape and Nyanga. A total of 453 people (children and adults combined) were involved in the study. It found that 32% of people heading households with orphans are grandmothers and 28% are headed by mothers. The total number of children heading households from the sample is 24 with the youngest child heading a household being 14 years and looking after 6 siblings.

Regarding shelter, the results reveal that there is poor maintenance of shelter by OVC who have very little financial means and some of the shelter poses health hazards. Mud floors are still prevalent in the 4 districts. From the sample, 36% of all OVC interviewed do not have birth certificates.

With regards to social services the FACT survey highlighted the prohibitive costs related to going to school (fees, uniforms, stationary etc) as one of the main reasons why OVCs were unable to continue in. As a result, while 78% of OVC involved in the study are enrolled in school, school attendance records provide a different picture. In addition to the issue of costs the children indicated that they also failed to maintain regular attendance because of household errands such as helping in the field and herding cattle and goats. Some indicated that to survive they had to work, and could not go to school.

Cost was also highlighted as a prohibitive factor in terms of accessing adequate health care and drugs. Further observation of the children sampled showed there is a general lack of growth and development, an indication of a poor diet that is predominately make up of carbohydrates and same type of vitamins with very little of the other essential nutrients necessary for bodybuilding and growth.

Considerable progress has been made in providing clean water supplies to the rural populace. However, a lot of boreholes are breaking down and not being repaired due to lack of spare parts.

The OVC in the survey area are receiving one type of support or another with the support mainly coming from NGOs (55%) and mainly in the form of food (34%). Government is supporting with the payment of school fees among other things.

Dambakurima Community and Red Cross in Communication Initiative

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society has installed a communication radio system in Dambakurima Village of Centenary District. This was made possible through a partnership between the Dambakurima Community and the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society which facilitated the purchase of the communication equipment. Centenary District in the Northern part of Zimbabwe has been hit by floods for the last three consecutive years. The flooding has destroyed homes, leaving hundreds of people destitute and has also destroyed crops, the major source of livelihood for the community. Due to remoteness of the area from other centres in the country, communication has been a problem leading to delayed response and unnecessary destruction of property.

One of the most prohibitive factors in terms of accessing assistance has been the breakdown in existing communication links during disasters such as floods or epidemics. "We have been cut off from the rest of the country and unable to call for help or to warn those intending to travel to affected areas", said Mr Musanhu one of the community members.

The communication system consists of a high frequency radio installed at Dambakurima Primary School (see map below) and a receiver installed at the Red Cross offices in Bindura and Harare.

Centenary District showing location of Dambakurimwa where the communication radio link was installed

The installation of the communication radio will enable communication between people in Dambakurima and the Red Cross in Bindura and Harare, particularly during emergencies.

"The Red Cross will easily communicate with Civil Protection Unit to ensure that assistance is mobilised immediately after an appeal has been made by the community through the communication radio", said Norman Takawira, the Red Cross Programme Officer for Mashonaland Central. It is hoped that the communication system will facilitate timely response to disasters minimising loss of lives and property.

Health Up Date

A weekly report on Epidemic Prone Diseases, Deaths and public Health Events for week 18 released by the Ministry of and Child Welfare indicates three main areas of concern for this week: continued high malaria deaths, high frequency of dog bites and sporadic suspected measles cases.

Clinical Malaria

Reported cases for this week were 29 834 and 52 deaths, a case fatality rate (CFR) of 0.17%. Most cases were reported from Mudzi (3,882) and Gokwe North (2,890) districts. Cumulative figures for the year now stand at 334,602 cases with 548 deaths (CFR of 0.16%).


There was a reported case of cholera in Mashonaland Central, Guruve District. This brings to 24 cases and one community death (CFR of 4.2%) for Mashonaland Central. The national cumulative cholera cases for the year now stand at 83 and 10 deaths (CFR of 12.1%).


The weekly Disease Surveillance System reported 13 cases of measles with Beit Bridge in Matebeleland South reporting 5 cases. Other conditions reported are common diarrhoea with 3643 cases and 16 deaths.

Dog Bites

For week 18, there were 95 dog bites reported with Harare City and Mashonaland Central Provinces reporting the largest number of cases 26 and 19 respectively. Cumulative figures now stand at 1047 dog bites, 167 suspected rabies cases, and 7 deaths of clinical rabid cases.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator/RRU

Information Reference of Humanitarian Assistance Meetings
May/June 2004

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

20 May ‘04
Child protection Working Group
Contact: Ron Pouwels, UNICEF

27 May ‘04
Agriculture Inputs Working Group
Contact: Morris Mudiwa, FAO

28 May ‘04
Water and Sanitation working Group;
Contact Maxwell Jonga, UNICEF

28 May ‘04
Matebeleland NGO Forum Coordination Meeting;
Contact: Norbet Dube, Oxfam Canada

31 May ‘04
Inter-Agency Coordination Committee on Health
Contact: Shadreck Khupe, WHO

2 June ‘04
Education Working Group
Contact: Cecilia Baldeh, UNICEF

3 June ‘04
Nutrition Working Group
Contact: Thokozile Ncube, UNICEF

Articles for publication in the next Situation Report should be submitted by 26 May 2004 to our office at the email address: Zimrelief.info@undp.org

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

This information can be accessed on the RRU website at: www.ZimRelief.info

For additional information or comments, please contact the UN Office of the Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Harare - tel: +263 4 792681, ext. 351 or e-mail: Zimrelief.info@undp..org