Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 19 Mar 2004

Malaria Cases Increasing Countrywide
Cases of malaria are reported to be on the increase in most parts of the country. A weekly report for week 9 on Epidemic Prone Diseases, Deaths and Public Health Events compiled by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MHCW) indicates that 14919 cases were reported with at least 30 deaths. Cumulative figures now stand at 115098 cases and 153 deaths.

Areas mostly affected are Manicaland province and Mashonaland Central as shown on the map below. Districts with highest reported cases are Chipinge with about 1800, Mudzi in Mashonaland East with 1115 cases and 3 deaths, Hurungwe with 823 and 4 deaths Kariba 536 and 1 death.

The rainy season is usually associated with high prevalence of malaria particularly in the low-lying areas of the low-veldt. Some of these areas have inadequate sanitation and health facilities making it difficult for a timely and effective response. The MHCW carries out indoor spraying programs for vector control in most affected areas on annual bases, but inadequate chemicals to cover all the districts hamper proper implementation of the program.

After realising the magnitude of the problem in Kariba district, a non-governmental organisation Save the Children UK donated chemicals worth ZW$120 million to complement efforts of the local authority in fighting malaria. 'Since we ventured into emergency preparedness and response, we believe in being more proactive as a way of reducing the impact of disease outbreaks, hence this timely intervention', said Mr Chris Mclvor, Save the Children UK Country Program Director.

It is incumbent upon organisations that operate in malaria high-risk areas to be proactive by implementing cost effective strategies to mitigate effects of malaria.

Department For International Development Plans to Improve Livelihood of Vulnerable Households

Department for International Development (DFID) has hosted a three-day Relief and Recovery workshop in Harare from 17-19 February 2004. The workshop was well attended with 145 representatives of NGOs, UN agencies, Government, the private sector and other donors. The objective of the workshop was to exchange ideas and technical expertise across a broad range of stakeholders in order to establish and build consensus around a strategy for protracted relief interventions in Zimbabwe.

Participants discussed the appropriate balance between short-term emergency responses, including food aid, and supporting more sustainable approaches to enhance household production and protect beneficiaries from present and future shocks. A livelihoods framework was used to look at how assets have been depleted, and how to strengthen coping strategies and reduce dependency on food aid. Particular attention was given to the impact that HIV/AIDS is having on households, and strategies to mitigate the impact of the epidemic.

DFID Zimbabwe is now developing a concept note to take forward this agenda, in collaboration with development partners, with a view of developing a three-year programme based on working through UN agencies and NGOs to protect livelihood security of vulnerable Zimbabweans. This will contribute to the longer-term goal of eliminating hunger and vulnerability in Zimbabwe.

DFID is the British Government's Department for International Development. DFID in Zimbabwe aims to provide assistance to vulnerable Zimbabweans suffering from the effects of economic decline, rapidly declining basic social services, high and probably increasing HIV-infection rates and erratic rainfall. Assistance is provided on the humanitarian principle of vulnerability and great efforts are made to ensure that assistance reaches only those in most need.

DFID have spent approximately =A365m (US$120m) in Zimbabwe since the current complex humanitarian crisis began in 2001. As a member state, the UK also provides significant additional funding through the EC. This financial year, DFID

have committed a total of =A331m. Approximately =A324m of this is for humanitarian assistance programmes, including some support (=A34.5m) to subsistence farmers to plant food crops, and =A320m for food aid interventions through WFP and NGOs.

=A36m is for HIV/AIDS mitigation, prevention and basic vaccines, and =A30.5 million is for other interventions. Owing to the anticipated continuation of the humanitarian crisis, funding for the financial year 2004/2005 is expected to be at a similar level, though the distribution between activities is under review.

A Sustainable Gender Specific HIV/AIDS Intervention Project With a Difference

Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN) a nongovernmental organisation successfully implemented a pilot project in Ckikwaka area of Goromonzi district. The project sought to promote and demonstrate a gender specific and sensitive

approach to HIV, AIDS and sexuality, reproductive health and rights issues. According to Mary Sandasi, WASN Director, the project developed after realising that women and girls are more vulnerable to HIV infection hence the reason for addressing their peculiar needs.

The organisation whose vision is an environment in which women and girls enjoy their full sexual reproductive health and rights started implementing the project in 1998.

WASN works closely with the community to openly discuss and share information on HIV, AIDS and sexual, reproductive health and rights issues. It promotes the creation of a supportive environment where community members particularly women and girls from all walks of life participate in discussions on reproductive health HIV and AIDS.

The project has already produced an information pack termed the reproductive health package that covers areas such as girls, sex and sexuality, communication and assertiveness, HIV/AIDS and nutrition, prevention of parent to child transmission, contraception, STIs and HIV in addition to many others. "As a result of the project, the Chikwaka community in Goromonzi district managed to break the barrier in communication about sexual, reproductive health and rights issues," said the program director Mary Sandasi.

The project has positively improved the well being of women and girls in the Chikwaka community as they are now able to make informed decisions about matters concerning their life and health. More school pupils in the project area now voluntarily come to be tested for HIV unlike before the project. Teachers in the area believe that the project has contributed to a reduction in teenage pregnancies and school drop out. Teachers also acknowledged that the project has equipped them with skills to handle social, cultural and economic issues that have a bearing on the girl child such as communication, sexual and reproductive health and rights of the girl child. Information on sexual, reproductive health and rights is being disseminated at community gatherings such as food distribution points and clinics. More people are also visiting the clinic for STI treatments and this is believed to be a result of information made available by WASN. Community members acknowledge that information from the packs has empowered them and they can identify some of the STIs by using the pictures in the booklets.

WASN now offers capacity building training to partner organisations so as to replicate the project in their areas of operations. This has been made possible by funding from CIDA. About eight organisations from various parts of the country implementing HIV and AIDS programs are set to benefit form the training. Some of the organisations include, Matebeleland AIDS Council, Midlands AIDS Service Organisation, FACT Masvingo, FACT Mutare, Gwanda AIDS Counseling Institute in addition to others.

The major challenges affecting operations of WASN are inadequate financial resources for expansion as well as transport for advocacy and outreach programs. However, WASN is capitalising on the resources available in a bid to ensure that women and girls are able to enjoy their sexual, reproductive health and rights in the era of HIV and AIDS.

National HIV/AIDS Conference Planned

Zimbabwe was among the first countries to recognize the HIV/AIDS problem and take organized action on a national level to ameliorate its effects. The first case of HIV was tested positive in 1985 and screening of blood donors started in the same year. A programme to control HIV/AIDS was drawn up in 1987, led by the Ministry of Health, which emphasized prevention of transmission of the infection and surveillance of its spread.

The nation has since developed well-articulated national policies and programmes to address the epidemic and its effects on all sectors. Zimbabwe in 1999 launched a national AIDS policy, and the following year established a multi-sectoral National AIDS Council (NAC) to coordinate the overall HIV/AIDS response. A National AIDS Trust Fund financed by a 3% levy on all income taxes paid to government was subsequently established to finance the national AIDS response.

In 2004, it will be almost 20 years since the first person tested HIV positive. The nation has learnt to live with, and respond to, this epidemic, which has spared no sector of national life.

Representatives from the National AIDS Council; AIDS and TB Unit of the MOHCW and the Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians, with support from NGO's, FBO's, Donors, Private Sector, People Living with HIV and AIDS, UN and educational institution will organize a national HIV/AIDS conference from 15-18th June 2004. The overall objective of the conference is to provide a national platform for all sectors and all levels of Zimbabwean society to review the HIV/AIDS response effort and draw up lessons that can illuminate future programmes.

Specific objectives include:

  • To review the HIV/AIDS response effort in the key sectors of society such as: the public sector, private sector etc and allow cross-sectoral experience sharing
  • To draw up the main lessons from these experiences
  • To suggest ways to improve the HIV/AIDS response in the country.

Conference delegates will comprise representatives from all sectors, i.e., public and private sectors and civil society, inclusive of the health, economic and religious sectors. This is to ensure that all share important responses implemented at various levels. The conference should draw up cross-sectoral recommendations for improving the national response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Seeking Support To Salvage the Education Data Systems

The right to education for all Zimbabwean children is at risk of not being realised, especially for girls and the growing number of orphans. Up to date statistics on education are inadequate or outdated, hence trends are difficult to analyse.

Available enrolment data shows a steep decline of National Enrolment Rate (NER) for both boys and girls. In 2000 the reported NER was 95% for boys and 90% for girls (EMIS-MoESC, 2001; SSR, 2003). No data is available for 2001 and 2002. By 2003 the NER had dropped from 95% to 67% for boys and from 90% to 63% for girls, in 3 years (EMIS-MoESC, 2001; SSR, 2003). Dated statistical analyses of school drop out data indicate the most vulnerable ages are 10-14 years and 15-19 years. Data on children and youth out of school is glaringly inadequate.

Very little is known about the situation of children in the 346 (now estimated to be 700) satellite schools in the resettlement areas, other than the acute shortage of teaching/learning materials and the inappropriate physical learning environments. There is limited if any HIV/AIDS education and Life skills support in these schools. The schools are yet to receive appropriate support due to lack of funding for emergency education.

Poor systems for data collection and management have resulted in inadequate age and gender disaggregated data on the situation of children out of school and OVCs, particularly as they are affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and declining economy. Data collected in the last two years remains unanalyzed. Rigorous analysis and planning capacity for more effective delivery of social services is weak in the education sector, as many qualified personnel have left the system.

While development agents eke out increasingly scarce funds to respond to the major educational problems brought about by the humanitarian crisis, much of what they do is based on anecdotal evidence or incomplete inaccurate data. Some organisations such as UNICEF have taken the lead to improve availability and quality of data on education in Zimbabwe.

UNICEF is working with the Netherlands embassy to evaluate the HIV/AIDS and Life skills education initiative with a view of gathering much needed information to improve programme quality. It is also working with the Ministry of Education to evaluation the girls' education project in three districts and conduct a national gender in education review towards the development of a sub-sector policy on gender in education, as well as address emerging concerns on sexual abuse in schools, among other gender and HIV/AIDS -related concerns.

Food Security Up date

Information obtained from the Food Security Brief indicates that the latest crop estimate and seed maize sale figures suggest a total maize cropping area in the region of 1.3 million hectares as at the end of February 2004. Total summer cereal production (maize and small grain) is estimated to be in the region of between 880 000 to 1.25 million MT. For more information, visit the Zimrelief web site http://www.zimrelief.info.

A proper crop assessment has to be done as soon as possible to determine yields.

CPU Steps Up Efforts in Emergency Preparedness and Response

The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) has planned to embark on a comprehensive capacity building program for provincial and district civil protection committees as well as government institutions and local authorities in emergency preparedness and response. The Unit, which falls under the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National

Housing, has the mandate to play a leading role in disaster preparedness and response in the country.

The main purpose of the planned program is to strengthen Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) by ensuring an integrated approach to EPR planning. The program will involve provincial and district workshops, simulation exercises for selected emergencies as well as road shows for communities to be aware of common emergencies. Some of the proposed areas for training are early warning and alert mechanisms, psychological trauma management in cases of accidents, risk reduction versus environmental issues, sphere project in disaster planning and response, management and responding to epidemics in addition to others.

With the limited resources at its disposal, the CPU has started on a consultative process with stakeholders so as to come up with a community driven program. The CPU is currently looking for financial and resource assistance to facilitate capacity building in (EPR) for all provinces.

UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator / RRU Information Reference of Humanitarian Assistance Meetings January - February 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

18 March '04
Child protection Working group
Contact: Ron Pouwels, UNICEF

19 March '04
Food Aid Coordination Meeting
Contact; Darlington Sarupinda, WFP

24 March '04
Urban sector Working group Meeting
Contact: Ruth Butao, UNRRU

25 March '04
Agriculture Co-ordination Working Group Meting
Contact: Morris Mudiwa; FAO

26 March '04
Matebeleland NGO Forum Coordination Meeting
Contact: Norbert Dube, OXFAM Canada

26 March '04
Water and Sanitation Working Group Meeting
Contact: Maxwell Jonga, UNICEF

Articles for publication in the next Situation Report should be submitted by 23March 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: http://www.ZimRelief.info