Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 18/2003

GoZ sign Memorandum of Understanding with World Food Programme
WFP and the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the WFP Emergency Operation (EMOP 10290). The MoU, signed on 25 September 2003, is the basic document that sets out the framework by which food aid sourced through WFP is distributed in Zimbabwe. The agreement defines the target beneficiaries, the beneficiary selection criteria, the roles of partner agencies and relevant government officials in the beneficiary registration and distribution process.

As has been the practice since WFP commenced the relief food programme 18 months ago, the MoU reaffirms that WFP food aid will be 'distributed exclusively on the basis of need alone and without prejudice to racial, tribal, political affiliation or religion'.

It is hoped that the signing of the MoU will encourage donors to make what are now urgently needed new contributions to the WFP programme. WFP field activities are proceeding very well under the same beneficiary selection criteria and food distribution process as has been in use for the last 18 months. The monthly target of feeding over 1.2 million people has been reached.

In addition to general food distribution in rural areas, the WFP urban feeding project for malnourished children is now operating at 37 clinics in Harare and Bulawayo. Just over 25,000 children are currently receiving assistance within the programme.

As the food security situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, WFP faces a serious commodity shortage by the end of the year. Urgent donor contributions are now required to feed over 4 million people in the critical preharvest season in January-April 2004.

Bilateral agreement with EuronAid signed

EuronAid have signed an agreement with the Goverment of Zimbabwe for the provision of humanitarian assistance. Euronaid is an association of European NGOs involved in providing food aid to Zimbabwe. The agreement was signed on 23 September 2003 and would improve the efficiency of EuronAid's programme, which is being implemented together with Zimbabwean and international NGOs, with funding from the European Commission (EC).

EuronAid Secretary-General Dr. Gerhard Schmalbruch stressed during the signing ceremony that he was convinced the agreement will improve the coordination of aid efforts between the government, NGOs and the EC. He also expressed his conviction that the efforts of civil society organisations working at the grassroots level with the population of Zimbabwe is of the utmost importance in overcoming the actual shortages of food production and food availability in Zimbabwe.

The EC had so far donated €15 million (about US $17.2 million) to EuronAid programmes in Zimbabwe. Dr. Schmalbruch also expressed his confidence that the additional required €10 million (about US $11.5 million) could be made available for this programme, despite the competition over funds for food crises and emergencies worldwide. The regional Country Support Office for EuronAid is based in Harare Mr. Aad Driessen, representative, can be contacted on a.driessen@euronaid.co.zw.

Seasonal forecast released

The Department for Meteorological Services have issued a forecast for the season October 2003 to March 2004. This forecast comes against the backdrop of El Nino that denied Zimbabwe of meaningful rainfall amounts during the 2002/2003 rainfall season. It is reported by the department that the current situation shows an end of El Nino and that near-normal conditions have been established.

The map below indicates the probabilities (likelihood) that above (top number), near (middle number), or below (bottom number) normal rainfall will be experienced in meteorological region.

From October to December in region 1 there is a higher likelihood of normal rainfall. In region 2 rainfall should be within the norm, but it could be more than usual. In region 3 while normal rains are expected, there is a moderate likelihood less than usual rain.

The current prediction for January to March is largely similar to that for October to March. The meteorological department reports that for regions 1 and 2 rainfall should be within the norm. For region 3 while normal rains are expected, there is a high likelihood of them being less than usual.

Based on these indicators, the outlook for Zimbabwe is for a better rainfall season than last. An update on the situation will be issued in December.

FEWSNET report that regardless of the agro-climatic conditions, prospects for the 2003/04 agricultural season remain bleak because of shortages of fertilizer, seeds, fuel and agricultural equipment spare parts.

Indications of food security

FOSENET have reported that there are many warning signals of rising food scarcities. FOSENET is the national NGO Food Security Network, involving 24 nongovernmental organisations that collectively report from all districts of Zimbabwe. According to reports from 58 districts in August 2003, food is becoming more scarce, harvest stocks have been exhausted in a majority of districts and over half report a deteriorating food situation.

The need for relief is reportedly growing. Communities reported that there were already some households who were in need of food due to poor harvests. In thirteen districts people were reported to be selling household assets again to buy food and farm inputs.

In addition, seed and fertilizer access continues to be a major bottleneck to improving food security. Seed prices are reported to have doubled in August alone as demand increases with the impending planting season. Maize seed is now reported to cost up to $35,000/10kg. This situation threatens to derail agricultural production and recovery if inputs are not accessed as a matter of urgency.

Effects of inflation on food security in rural areas

One of the key assumptions made during the May 2003 ZimVAC rural vulnerability assessment was that the GMB maize selling price would remain stable. However, because it has changed drastically, it has become necessary to revise the number of people in need of food assistance and the amount of assistance required. The diagram below, produced by ZimVAC, shows the two estimates of the population in need of food assistance in the different periods based on these different pricing scenarios.

A comparison of numbers of people needing food assistance given two price scenarios

The requirement for food aid in the 2003/04 marketing year according to ZimVAC has also increased significantly and the diagram below compares the earlier and the new estimates of the amount of food required.

A comparison of food aid required given two price scenarios

Urban assessment underway

The national urban vulnerability assessment for Zimbabwe commenced on 22 September 2003. Food security within the urban and peri-urban areas continues to be an issue of major concern due to the rapidly declining economy. Very limited assessments have been undertaken to determine the impact of the economic and social changes in Zimbabwe on vulnerability in urban areas.

It is against this backdrop that GoZ sought funding from the UN to carry out a food security and livelihoods assessment in urban areas. It is hoped that the information generated from the assessment will be useful to government and its partners in the humanitarian assistance programmes, both decision-makers and practitioners, for timely and accurate information and analysis on the urban poor. More specifically the urban assessment hopes to:

  • Identify food security and livelihoods problems, constraints, strategies and coping mechanisms among different social and economic groups in the urban sector;

  • Gain an in-depth analysis of the predisposing factors to food and livelihoods insecurity in the urban areas in order to inform policy programme design and intervention;

  • Study household food expenditure and food access patterns among different socio-economic groups in the urban areas;

  • Establish baseline data on urban vulnerability and lay foundations for developing a practical monitoring system that provides an early indication of food security and livelihoods vulnerability;

  • Examine the linkages between food security, HIV/AIDS, education, child protection and health;

  • Identify food and non-food interventions and policy implications.

Like the vulnerability assessments (VA) conducted in rural areas, the urban VA will also pursue a livelihoods-based vulnerability analysis (LBVA) framework based on household surveys, focus group discussions and institutional surveys. The assessment hopes to cover about 5,700 households in all urban areas of Zimbabwe including; cities, border towns, district capitals, mining towns, provincial capitals, resort and service towns and centres.

The fieldwork will be completed by mid October, at which stage data analysis and report writing will begin. A final report is expected by the end of November 2003.

New urban initiative launched

A new USAID pilot project aimed at alleviating food insecurity in urban areas has been initiated in Zimbabwe's second largest city. The Market Assistance Pilot Programme (MAPP) was launched in Bulawayo on 23 September 2003 to address increasing food shortages in urban areas. The programme is being implemented by Catholic Relief Services in collaboration with World Vision and Care International, and is funded by the US government through the Food for Peace Office of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

"The rationale for this programme is that while most food aid is being distributed in rural areas it is clear that food insecurity has been worsening in urban areas and that a major reason for this has been lack of food in the market" said the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Joseph Sullivan. The pilot programme will run initially for six months at which point it will be evaluated with a view to continuation and possible expansion. Sorghum donated by the US is being sold in 40 high-density urban suburbs of Bulawayo at a subsidized price of ZW$1,900 for a 5kg bag. The GoZ controlled price for a 5kg sack of the staple maize meal is ZW$3,320 while the price on the parallel market is over ZW$10,000. Supplies of maize meal are small and the cost is beyond the means of many urban poor.

Monitoring updates

The RRU Field Teams have been monitoring the changes in the humanitarian situation of the population in several areas. There are indications that raise serious concern particularly in Manicaland and Matebeleland South Provinces.

Lack of food continues to be a problem in up to 90% of the households visited in Manama and Gwanda Rural. These families now rely on wild fruits and wild pumpkins, which are normally fed to livestock. GMB indicate that food deliveries to Gwanda will continue to be irregular due to fuel shortages. Some communities have no international assistance programmes operating and rely entirely on GMB supplies.

Indications are that in Manicaland GMB will not be able to procure enough food to feed the whole population in the province this year. The province requires about 27,000MT per month, but GMB is expecting to receive about 10,500MT for the entire year.

Coping mechanisms in these areas have also been greatly eroded from the succession of difficulties (drought, cyclone, land issues and economic decline). Regular means of earning alternate income have disappeared and most residents remain highly vulnerable.

In the southern areas, water shortages remain critical, for both human and livestock use. In Beitbridge, Gwanda, Matobo, and parts of Bulilima and Managwe Districts about 80% of the population are affected. In Gwanda Rural about 80% of the families visited have lost their livestock through deaths related to lack of pastures, water scarcity or foot and mouth disease. According to the Provincial Veterinary Department, there is a high risk of losing the remaining livestock. UNICEF has started a programme of rehabilitating boreholes in the region, but is only able to cover part of the vulnerable area with their existing funds.

All areas are seeing an increase in the number of child-headed households. Of the villages visited in Manicaland, six to ten households in each were child-headed. In the urban areas another symptom of the problem is the increasing numbers of street children. Officials in the city of indicated concern for the increasing numbers of children on the streets, and the lack of funds to support existing programmes for orphans, much less the required extensions of the programmes.

UN committed to the transparency of humanitarian assistance

The UN/RRU Field Offices continue to be a point of discussion between the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator, Mr. J. Victor Angelo, and the Government of Zimbabwe. Mr. Angelo has stressed that monitoring of international assistance delivery is a key concern, and that these offices play a critical role in that process. The offices will be staffed with a combination of local and international staff, experienced in emergency assistance delivery mechanisms. The focus of the offices should be on three activities:

1) Assisting with co-ordination of local delivery of international humanitarian programmes,

2) Observing gaps between community needs and international assistance delivered, and assisting to formulate new project proposals with implementing partners to target those gaps, and

3) Monitoring and validation of international humanitarian assistance packages.

The discussions with GoZ regarding the opening of these offices is proceeding well, and Mr. Angelo expects the three initial offices to be open and operational shortly. Meanwhile the assigned UN staff are assisting the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee in carrying out the nation-wide Urban Vulnerability Assessment, the fieldwork of which is now in progress.


Over 90 organisations from across the country took part in the second annual NGO EXPO. The event, hosted by the National Association for Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) took place in Harare from 25-27 September 2003. This year's event retained the theme from last year "NGO Sector Unveiled: Dialogue for Development".

The intention of the event was to showcase work being done by NGOs in the different sectors and to reach out through the exhibition of their products and services to reveal the nature of the NGO sectors significant contribution to development in Zimbabwe. The UN Relief and Recovery Unit (RRU) also participated with an exhibition stand at the event.

The theme of the opening day was 'Humanitarian Food Security in Zimbabwe' and presentations were made by representatives of WFP and UN RRU, the Drought Department of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and Transparency International. Presentations were followed by a round-table discussion.

Sector leaders strategic meeting

A meeting of the UN sector leaders of the humanitarian working groups took place on 25 September 2003. The meeting was set up to review progress made and think through a coherent strategy on the implementation of humanitarian response. Sectors represented were: Food; Agriculture; Nutrition; Health; Urban Vulnerability; Protection, Water and Sanitation, Education and Child Protection. It was proposed that the sector leads meet every other month to provide a UN-wide system for pro-active leadership in implementation and facilitating participation of Government and other stakeholders in the sector working groups.

In particular it has been found that there is a need to use the working groups from a more strategic perspective, ensuring that:

(a) Dialogue on sectoral issues is maintained among the stakeholders: the GoZ, UN, NGOs and donors;

(b) Critical implementation issues including those related to sectoral strategies, policies and logistics are discussed and recommendations for action proposed;

(c) Gaps are identified and recommendations on closing these are made.

Humanitarian principles workshop repeated

As a follow-up to a national workshop held in Harare in April 2003 a two-day workshop on humanitarian principles and practice was held in Bulawayo from 16th to 17th September 2003 and was facilitated by OCHA/RRU/SAHRIT. The objectives of the workshop were:

a) To familiarize the participants with the main humanitarian principles as endorsed by the main humanitarian actors;

b) To share with workshop participants the experience of other countries in using humanitarian principles;

c) To review how humanitarian principles can be integrated into current humanitarian interventions, so that the most vulnerable communities can be assisted and protected.

The workshop brought together a wide range of stakeholders involved in humanitarian work including government ministries, NGOs, Red Cross Movement and the UN, that operate in Matebeleland North and South provinces. The two provinces were given a priority as they are among the provinces that are most prone to humanitarian crises in Zimbabwe.

The workshop was considered a success since it offered an opportunity for the building of mutual trust among the various stakeholders. Below are some recommendations that were agreed on:

a) The proposal of a Memorandum of Understanding on humanitarian obligations of the various humanitarian actors was a good idea to be taken forward.

b) There was need for similar workshops to cater for participants from Matebeleland North and South, who were unable to participate as well as for other provinces.

c) Council Chairpersons and the Chief Executive Officers of Rural District Councils need to be included in all future workshops.

UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator / RRU

Information Reference of Humanitarian Assistance Meetings October 2003

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

1st October '03
Education Working Group
Contact: Bernard Batidzirai,

1st October '03
Urban Sector Working Group
Contact: Ruth Butao,

2nd October '03
Nutrition Working Group
Contact: Thelma Bamhare,

9th October '03
WFP Food Aid Donor Group Meeting
Contact: Makena Walker,

16th October '03
Child Protection WG
Contact: Ron Pouwels,

30th October '03
Emergency Agric. Inputs Mtg.
Contact: Morris Mudiwa,

30th October '03
UNCT Meeting
Contact: Annika Rosing,

30th October '03
UNCT and NGOs Meeting
Contact: Annika Rosing,

31st October '03
Water and Sanitation Working Group
Contact: Max Jonga

4th November '03
HC and NGOs Meeting
Contact: Annika Rosing,

GoZ, 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 8th October to RRU at the email address: rru.zw@undp.org