Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 22 Jul 2002

UN Secretary-General appoints Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa
Mr. Kofi Anan, the UN Secretary-General has appointed Mr. James Morris, the executive Director of the World Food Programme, to serve as his Special Envoy on the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa. The objective of the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa is to complement the UN system's efforts to raise awareness and understanding of the situation among the international community and to provide recommendations on how to strengthen the humanitarian response and mobilize donor support.

WFP Emergency Operation Receives First Donation

The UK donated US$10.6 million for Zimbabwe under the Southern Africa Regional Appeal. This is the first donation to Zimbabwe since the WFP Appeal was launched on 1 July. The WFP Appeal was afterwards included in the Zimbabwe Consolidated Appeal, which was launched on 18 July. This donation is received against the WFP-indicated national requirement of US$236.5 million for food aid in the 2002-2003 season.

Malnutrition Levels on Increase in Zimbabwe

Results of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare/UNICEF Nutrition Assessment were released at a workshop for humanitarian aid participants. In comparison to the 1999 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS), preliminary results show that there is an overall deterioration of the nutritional status of both children and mothers/care givers. Although the national average of wasting of 6.4% is very close to the ZDHS level of 6.0%, in the provinces the average was 7.2% with a range of 2.8-10.0%. Twelve districts had a prevalence rate of above 5%. A very high level of wasting in the older age group (36-59 months) implies a problem of food insecurity. Using the MUAC measurements also indicates national problems: when the prevalence of malnutrition is 10% in disaster situations and 15% under other conditions a feeding programme is recommended. Nineteen of the 24 districts studied in the provinces have MUAC of more than 10%. The results also showed that five districts have more than a third of the under-fives who are malnourished.

The study confirmed food insecurity as the underlying cause for the recent deterioration of the nutritional status in Zimbabwe. The rural areas have been more affected than the urban areas.

Protein-Energy and Micronutrient Malnutrition (PEMM) was noted to result from a combination of food insecurity, deterioration of caring capacity and practices and poor health, hygiene and sanitation. In particular, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a major causative factor for malnutrition whether at the immediate, underlying or basic levels.

The Nutrition Assessment used the standard WHO 30 by 30 cluster sampling to select both study area and subjects. It covered children 6-59 months and their caregivers with a minimum calculated sample of 23,400 pairs of children-caregivers. Children were defined as malnourished if they were below minus two standard deviations (-2SD) using weight-for-height (wasting), weight-for-age (underweight) and height-for-age (stunting). A mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) of below 13.5cm was also defined as wasting

As a way of sharing the findings of the UNICEF-led assessments, particularly the Nutrition Assessment, the MoHCW hosted a meeting on 18 July 2002 for representatives from various government ministries, UN agencies, international and local NGOs working in the field of nutrition and supplementary feeding. The forum planned future nutrition assessment activities and mechanisms for monitoring nutrition issues and child supplementary feeding implementation. National guidelines, implementation policy and co-ordination mechanisms for a national child supplementary feeding programme were discussed.

The participating stakeholders agreed that urgency is required to meet the acute nutritional needs of the very vulnerable children and their caregivers in Zimbabwe.

Cost of Living Continues to Sour

An update by FEWS Net indicates that affected populations in urban areas of Zimbabwe continue to struggle with the twin food problems of shortages and rapidly increasing costs -- both of food and other essential household goods. The Harare-poor households' cost of living has gone up significantly during the first five months of 2002. The value of the food expenditure basket, based on controlled prices, in May 2002 was marginally lower than it was in January 2002. The official food inflation in May 2002 was estimated at 108.4% compared to 118.6% in January 2002. The drop is mainly due to stricter enforcement of price controls on foodstuffs. The value of the expenditure basket for the very poor urban household of four people more than quadrupled in the twelve months period. In addition, that of the poor households increased by 163%. Households in the upper end of poor households in Harare saw their expenditure basket increase by 198% to about ZW$19,360 per month by May 2002.

Since October 2001 the value of the CCZ Harare Low Income Earning households' expenditure basket has also increased gradually up to January 2002 when it was ZW$23,470 per month. It immediately fell by 3% in February 2002 leading to the value of the expenditure basket increasing by 15% to ZW$26,700 per month. The increases in the expenditure baskets have been driven mainly by increases in prices of non staple food stuffs and durable household goods. Clothing and durable household goods had the highest increases of 100% and 66% respectively, between January 2002 and May 2002. Bread and salt have joined sugar, milk, cooking oil and corn meal as food items reported to be in short supply. The recent shortage of bread has further affected the poor households, which have been using bread as an alternative to shortage of maize-meal.

Food Security Assessment

As the food security situation deteriorates, there are increasing demands from affected communities to be considered for food assistance. A joint Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment by the national Vulnerability Assessment Committee, chaired by the Food and Nutrition Council is scheduled to take place from 30 July to 24 August 2002. The assessment is being supported by SADC VAC and a range of international humanitarian aid organizations, i.e., FAO, WFP, UNICEF, RRU, FEWS Net, SCF(UK), CARE, GOAL and several other NGOs. The assessment will involve a combination of a questionnaire-based and qualitative Household Economy Approaches in order to build district population profiles related to vulnerability and food insecurity.

Adequate Preparations Needed for the 2002/2003 Planting Season

Preparations for the 2002/2003-summer season: Government reported that it is providing ZW$8.5 billion for various agriculture inputs and tillage. To date DDF reports only 500 of its 768 fleet of tractors are functional. This would, at most, provide tillage for 75,000ha in support of the farmers needs. A shortfall of about 200,000mt of fertilizers is expected due to production capacity constraints and shortage of foreign currency in the sector. Zimbabwe uses 600,000mt of fertilizers per year.

Early irrigated maize on about 20,000 to 30,000ha has been planned. Of this, ARDA will contribute 5,000 to 7,000ha, communal areas 4,000ha and the rest coming from some commercial farmers, indigenous commercial farmers and schemes in the resettled areas. An update by the Regional Co-ordinator for the SADC Seed Security Network noted that the situation does not call for importation of seed from outside the SADC region. It has been confirmed that there is sufficient maize seed (over 40,000mt) in the country. However, seed companies feel that there could be a problem with sorghum and millets, sunflower, groundnuts, bambara nuts and beans.

Farmers in 2001/02 had reduced harvests, hence would have limited cash after food purchases to be able to afford inputs in the 2002/03 production season. Production in the current season is therefore likely to be negatively affected. Shortage of food, and the fact that most of the family incomes and livestock will be used to source food, implies little household income will be available for purchasing inputs for the 2002/2003 farming season. There is, therefore, an urgent need to assist farmers with input purchases, if even incipient agricultural recovery is to be seen.

Tobacco preparations are slow as there has been no support from the commercial banks for the establishment of tobacco nurseries. This sector requires about ZW$35 billion.

Livestock: The condition of livestock is reported to be generally still good. However, some disease is prevalent; 106 cattle deaths have been reported recently in Binga, Hwange, Nyanga and Gokwe districts from heart water, gall sick ness, foot and mouth and internal infections.

Addressing the Findings of the Health Assessment

After analyzing the Health Assessment findings, WHO has developed an implementation plan to address the problems identified. This implementation plan is being guided by the assessment findings and seeks to assist MoHCW in responding to disease outbreaks and improving health outreach services. The cholera problem seems to be currently under control, with the last reported cases in early June. WHO has received the first consignment of emergency drug supplies, which have since been donated to MoHCW. These drugs are currently being distributed to the areas with the biggest drug deficits to benefit the most vulnerable population groups. A bulk order of a second essential drug consignment has been made and delivery is expected in August.

UNFPA Promotes Women's Empowerment and HIV Prevention

In response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Zimbabwe where 69% of the population lives in rural areas, UNFPA has launched a pilot project that addresses intervention measures specifically focusing on rural women while being economically empowered. The major thrust of the project is to ensure that women are active participants and beneficiaries of HIV/AIDS interventions.

A total of 200 women from two wards in Buhera district have started to benefit through engaging in income generating projects. The 3-year project, which targets 1,600 women, will be expanded to Chipinge, Bikita, Gokwe North and Bulilamangwe Districts.

Water and Sanitation Initiatives

Save the Children Fund (UK) indicated that a water and sanitation assessment has been carried out in Binga and Nyaminayami districts. The assessment is in response to the emergency request for water and sanitation to mitigate the effects of drought in the two districts.

The UNICEF-led Water and Sanitation Assessment carried out in 24 other districts also had official presentation of its findings at the MoHCW/UNICEF workshop on 18 July. The major recommendations of the assessment were:

  • Reconstruct 50% of damaged household toilets (Mutare - 2244 toilets; Chimanimani- 1340 toilets; Gwanda 481 toilets and Mberengwa- 423 toilets).

  • Drill 1 512 boreholes and deepen 581 deep wells by priority areas. To ensure community ownership and participation, link these activities to the Public Works Programme already introduced in the districts.

  • Initiate a sanitation programme to produce 22 500 toilets by the end of the year in all 24 districts.

  • Upgrade institutional water facilities especially for clinics and schools in the communal lands. It is estimated that less than 20% of health institutions in communal areas have adequate water supplies.

  • Intensify appropriate health and hygiene education in the new resettlement areas giving priority to the concept of the sanitation ladder and allowing for appropriate choices to be made depending on capacity.

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For additional information or comments, please contact the United Nations Relief and Recovery Unit, Harare - tel: +263 4 792681, ext. 207 or e-mail: george.olesh@undp.org