Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 21 Apr 2004

UN Team and Ambassadors Visit Matebeleland South Province
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator (UN HC) accompanied a small group of ambassadors on a field trip to Matebeleland South Province between the 31st of March and the 3rd of April 2004. The mission was a follow up to the UN HC visit to the province in February 2004. During the first visit by the HC, there was an agreement between the Humanitarian Coordinator and the Governor to meet again and discuss in more detail the challenges facing the province. The province was declared to be in a state of disaster by the government last year.

Accompanying the UN Humanitarian Coordinator were the Ambassadors of Belgium and Norway and the Delegate of the European Union as well as the Head of the Relief and Recovery Unit and officials from central government.

In her welcoming remarks, the Governor highlighted overcoming food insecurity as the over-riding priority for the province. To illustrate this, great emphasis was paid during the site visits to the need for the promotion of irrigations schemes and to ensuring that existing schemes are fully operational. The Governor led the visitors on site visits in the communal lands, to the Valley Dam and Irrigation Scheme, which could potentially irrigate 250 hectares of land, and Mtshabezi Irrigation Scheme in Gwanda District with irrigable area totalling 300ha.

The delegation also visited Shashani Irrigation Scheme (243ha irrigable land) and Mbembeswane Rural Health Centre in Matobo District. It was noted at the clinic that 20-30 cases of malnutrition in children are presented for treatment each month.

Much of the assistance is required for areas that are in agro-ecological zone 5 for which rainfall is low and erratic. The potential for production is however enhanced, because of existing dams, which can provide an adequate water supply for the proposed schemes.

Rural Vulnerability Assessment Ready to Take-off

The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) is planning to commence the field-work for an assessment of food security and livelihoods in the rural areas of Zimbabwe. The purpose of this assessment will be to ensure that there is sufficient information available for planning interventions and decision-making. This survey will not merely update the last rural assessment, conducted in April 2003, but will seek a deeper understanding of the broader emerging context and key issues redefining rural livelihoods and vulnerability in Zimbabwe.

Since August 2002, three rural and one urban food security and vulnerability assessments have been carried out in Zimbabwe. These assessments have highlighted the declining trend in the food security situation at all levels. However, while the food deficit gap at national level significantly improved in the last season, the availability of maize and its accessibility have emerged as the main determining factors of food insecurity at all levels. During the last marketing year, there was more grain available on the market but the price made it difficult for large numbers of the population, in both rural and urban areas, to access the staple food. The Urban Vulnerability Assessment carried out in September 2003 estimated that about 65% of urban households were food insecure. This assessment aims to ascertain the levels of vulnerability among the rural population.

The specific objectives of the assessment are:

  • To identify areas and socio-economic groups likely to be food insecure and to predict the extent and intensity of food insecurity at national and sub-national levels;

  • To identify major constraints and opportunities to support sustainable rural livelihoods;

  • To establish changes in livelihoods and coping strategies of rural households over time;

  • To understand the gender dimensions of sustainable rural livelihoods;

  • To examine the linkages between rural livelihoods and HIV/AIDS, education, child protection, health, nutrition and water and sanitation.

Training of enumerators started on 5 April 2004 and the fieldwork is expected to take 2 weeks. Enumerators were trained in the use of PDA's (a hand computer which assists in speeding up data entry). Information collected during household interviews will be captured electronically on site at the time of interview. Information from the community interviews will be entered using a pre-defined format. The preliminary report and the draft analysis report are expected to be complete by the end of May.

In accordance with a decision made at a regional VAC meeting, held earlier this year, the Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) this year will overlap/interface with the national vulnerability assessment. The Government of Zimbabwe invited FAO and WFP to field a joint Crop and Food Supply Assessment team to help confirm the food security situation and provide recommendations for appropriate interventions.

CFSAM depend on the data generated by vulnerability assessments for their analysis of the food security situation. The overlap will enhance understanding of both the methodological and data process behind the analysis of the food security situation.

Cholera Reported in Guruve District

MAP - Cholera cases and deaths (Jan - Apr 04)

A cholera epidemic was reported in Guruve District of Mashonaland Central for week 14. As of 13 April 2004, 17 cases were reported with one death. The index case reported on 7 April 2004 was a woman who went to Zambia with her child to attend a funeral. Her child fell ill and died soon after getting back home in Zimbabwe. The Northern and North Eastern Districts have been experiencing sporadic cholera outbreaks from September last year.

The situation has been exacerbated by poor access and availability of clean water and sanitation facilities in the affected areas. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare is currently implementing cholera control measures in the affected district and as of week 15, the situation was under control with no further outbreaks reported for the district.

Malaria Deaths Still High

The problem of clinical malaria is still on going particularly in Matebeleland North and Mashonaland Central. Total reported cases for week 15 are 15,982. Mashonaland Central with a total of 3,299 had the highest number of malaria cases with Matebeleland North having 3,257 cases. A total of 37 deaths were reported and Lupane District had the highest mortality of 12. Cumulative figures now stand at 25,0511 and 393 deaths.

The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and a number of partners including WHO and UNICEF have developed a malaria preparedness plan that draws on the experience of the cholera control plan, which should see the significant reduction in the clinical malaria cases. The plan is already providing leads on how best to build capacity at service delivery points at the community level in terms of staffing and provision of essential consumables through the existing structures.

Training for FOSENET Members

The third Group of the Food Security Network (FOSENET) is to be trained in Project Planning and Disaster Programming from the 26 to 30 April 2004. The training is being organised by FOSENET with Save the Children UK offering financial assistance. The main objective of the training is to build capacity of FOSENET members with skills of writing project proposals as well as successfully implementing them. Members will also be trained in the sphere project and how it can be used in disaster programming.

FOSENET is a network of local NGOs that are mostly involved in food aid and food security. A number of the members implement projects in food security for highly vulnerable groups such as those affected by HIV/AIDS particularly orphans.

Improving Livelihoods at Household and Community Level - Nutrition and Recovery Consultative Meeting

The nutrition unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare has convened and funded a consultative meeting on nutrition and recovery programmes from 22 - 23 April 2004. The objectives of this consultative meeting are to:

1. Review and examine the nutritional status based on key indicators;

2. Review nutrition programs in place before 2001 and changes that have taken place;

3. Agree on measures and strategies that would produce the required improvements, including reviving the programs that existed before 2001; and

4. Agree on broad recommendations to guide policy programmes for nutrition improvement in Zimbabwe.

Participants will include key nutritionists from GoZ, both at national and provincial level, UN Agencies and NGOs. The group is expected to come up with broad recommendations that will guide future nutrition policy and programmes to bridge humanitarian and development programmes. It is expected that similar meetings will be replicated at provincial level to maintain momentum in planning at a local level.

Possibilities for Increased Yields Through Conservation Farming to be Explored

Conservation Farming, which targets vulnerable households with limited access to mechanised and animal tillage, is a method of significantly increasing crop yields in areas of reasonable rainfall levels. FAO, along with a number of NGOs and technical organisations has been successfully promoting conservation farming in neighbouring Zambia.

Under the FAO Conservation Farming programme, targeted towards vulnerable but viable farmers in Zambia, farmers were given inputs (seeds, fertiliser and lime and tools) to farm on 0.25-0.5ha plots for each. Along with the pack, FAO's programme included training in basic principles of conservation farming (CF) for the recipients. Principles include, no burning residues, the establishment of correctly spaced permanent planting basins before the rains; early planting of all crops and early weeding. In the pilot phase, where, for comparison purposes, farmers applied conventional and CF methods on their land, yield increases (yield per unit area) of up to 70% were experienced.

Conservation farming traditionally advocates new methods of maximising crops in areas with lower (but reasonable) rainfall and in more difficult conditions. Locally developed approaches to conservation farming in a maizebased cropping system have been successful and popular, and their promotion is now a policy of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives of the Government of Zambia. FAO is currently looking into the possibility of adopting a similar national framework in Zimbabwe. Several small stakeholder meetings have been held to begin the development of a framework for next 2-3 years for Conservation Farming.

New Law to Benefit People of Foreign Origin Born in Zimbabwe

The State President assented into law the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act, which provides that all persons born in Zimbabwe but whose parents are of SADC countries will now be exempted from renouncing their foreign citizenship and still be recognised as Zimbabweans. As a result groups like farm workers, domestic employees, mine workers or workers in any unskilled occupation born of SADC parents, particularly those from Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia will be exempted from renouncing their foreign citizenship to retain Zimbabwean status as required by section 9 of the Act.

The General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union (GAPWUZ) is set to go out on an advocacy role, to make sure that all concerned parties, particularly the farm workers capitalise on this new legislation.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator/RRU

Information Reference of Humanitarian Assistance Meetings
April -May 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

22 April 04
Child Protection Working Group
Contact: Ron Pouwels; UNICEF

22-23 April 04
Consultative Meeting on Nutrition and Recovery Programmes
Contact: Ms R Madzima
Ministry of Health and Child Welfare

27 April 04
UNCT Meeting
Contact: Loretta Bismark; UN RRU

29 April 04
HC and NGO Meeting
Contact: Loretta Bismark; UN RRU

29 April 04
Agriculture Co-ordination Working Group
Contact: Morris Mudiwa; FAO

30 April 04
Water and Sanitation Working Group
Contact; Maxwell Jonga; UNICEF

30 April 04
Matebeleland NGO Coordination Forum Meeting
Contact; Norbet Dube
OXFAM Canada

4 May 04
HC and Friends Meeting;
Contact: Maria Kantamigu; UNDP

5 May 04
Education Working Group
Contact: Cecilia Baldeh; UNICEF

6 May 04
Nutrition Working Group
Contact: Thokozile Ncube; UNICEF

Articles for publication in the next Situation Report should be submitted by 30 April 2004 to our office at the email address: Zimrelief.info@undp.org

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

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