Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 26 Nov 2002

UN Secretary General's Statement (14 November)
Appealing to the international community for more assistance to address the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa, especially in Zimbabwe, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, said that he was concerned about the deteriorating situation of almost 7 million people in the country who are in need of food aid.

He noted reports of politicization in food distribution and humanitarian assistance and expressed full support for the zero-tolerance policy established by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) with respect to food distribution. "Those distributing aid have an obligation to ensure that it is given to beneficiaries based on their needs and not upon political affiliation," the Secretary General said in a statement issued by a UN spokesman. Mr. Annan also appealed to the Government of Zimbabwe to fulfil its commitment to ensure that political considerations do not affect food aid efforts within the country.

Food Aid Update

NGOs Action Contre la Faim and Help Zimbabwe have been approved by GoZ as the latest WFP implementing partners. This will strengthen capacity; however it will take some time before the two NGOs are fully operational. Catholic Relief Services, Concern and GOAL are scaling up to start distributing food in late December. As GoZ has authorised Save the Children (UK) to restart general food distribution in Binga district, it is not necessary for WFP to initiate operations there.

Registration of WFP beneficiaries has been completed in 35 districts and is ongoing in another 22 districts. However, slow deliveries of food and delays due to import requirements of GM maize grain will prevent WFP from meeting its November target of distributing food to 3 million people. The swap of 17,500MT of maize with the GMB has not yet taken place. WFP appreciates the recent and very generous contributions for Zimbabwe from the EU, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Oman and the USA; however these shipments will likely not arrive before early January, leading to a December shortfall of over 33,000MT of maize and pulses. Sporadic shortages of fuel and spare parts are also hampering food deliveries at the village and ward level.

2002/2003 agricultural season

FAO and NGO Agriculture Support

Preliminary figures of household coverage reported as fully funded as at 13 November 2002.

CARE Zimbabwe
Christian Care
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe
German Agro Action (GAA)
Lutheran Development Service (LDS)
Oxfam GB
Plan International
Relief and Development Desk (RDD)
World Vision

Source: FAO

The delivery of FAO input packs has been delayed to 25 November 2002, due to import certification requirements. Seed distributions by NGOs (see table above) and under the GoZ inputs credit scheme implemented by GMB, are in progress.

With pre-season surplus stocks apparently exhausted and fertiliser in short supply, GoZ has announced that the import of maize seed is under consideration.

FAO is formulating a response to Foot and Mouth Disease, including interventions targeting small ruminants and livestock. If the proposal is successful, funding would be available before the end of the year.

Further decline in food security situation

Information collected from 152 field monitors in 52 districts of Zimbabwe indicates that food security has fallen markedly in October 2002. Household stocks in most districts continue to fall and in many cases are close to zero. Vulnerability has increased including effects on children such as increased dropout rates, absenteeism and inability to concentrate in school. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare has requested that the UN assist in conducting a farm worker survey to identify the needs of this group. Preliminary field preparations have been completed and the survey will be carried out in January.

Stakeholders discuss strategy to assist the vulnerable urban population

FEWS-Net has noted that the living standards of poor urban households continue to deteriorate in spite of price controls on the most basic commodities. This is because basic commodities are rarely available in the formal market, forcing most poor urban households to purchase at a higher price on the parallel market.

In response, WFP and other relevant agencies are exploring ways to target and distribute food to the most vulnerable in urban areas. The Urban Strategy Working Group has asked FEWS-Net to develop a conceptual framework for a quick urban assessment of Zimbabwe's urban areas. This would form the basis for producing a proposal for funding by ZIMVAC. The Working Group also agreed to request ZIMVAC to include urban assessments in the December 2002 Vulnerability Assessment Update.

Humanitarian Meeting

The UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator's office held another meeting on 25 November bringing together GoZ and representatives of the international community to discuss humanitarian issues. Among the points raised were:

1. Food security implementation issues

  • WFP distribution and pipeline situation,
  • bilateral assistance pipelines,
  • GoZ pipeline.

Supplementary feeding programmes and the national nutritional survey.

3. Health assistance issues, particularly vaccines and delivery problems.

The meeting was held in a positive working environment and involved frank discussions on the issues. Although GoZ was well represented by various ministries, a request was made that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development should also be present as they are a key player in humanitarian issues. The date for the next meeting was tentatively set for 9 December.

Intensification of regional efforts against HIV/AIDS

The UN Regional Inter Agency Co-ordination Support Office (RIASCO) based in Johannesburg, provides regional support to national efforts in addressing the southern African crisis. On 6-7 November 2002, UNAIDS and RIASCO reviewed the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the region, taking into consideration the impact of HIV on food production as well as on the overall capacity of individuals and communities to recover. UN agencies emphasise the need to move beyond a standard emergency response and take a long-term perspective on this issue because short-term responses are often inadequate and may undermine progress toward more sustainable approaches.

A follow-up meeting scheduled for 5 December will bring donors, GoZ, UN and other relevant agencies together to focus on links between HIV/AIDS and the Humanitarian Crisis in Zimbabwe. The UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa will attend the meeting during his visit from 4-7 December.

UNICEF training in child protection

A workshop organised by UNICEF, Save the Children (UK) and WFP has trained 19 programme managers from various NGOs - including UNICEF - as trainers in the prevention of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Work plans have been developed to follow-up on this second training and overall an estimated 2,030 NGO care-providers are to be trained in addition to other on-going activities. The zero tolerance campaign against child abuse was officially launched at a ceremony officiated by the UNICEF Representative and representatives from Ministry of Justice, Education and from the media.

Malnutrition training for health workers

Forty (40) health workers, including Paediatricians, Senior Nurses, and Nutritionists, attended a training workshop on management of severe malnutrition. This training was to introduce the WHO protocol on management of severe malnutrition and to produce an action plan for Zimbabwe. The workshop noted that although an estimated 46,000 children were found to be severely malnourished in May 2002, only a small percentage of these had been admitted to hospital due to a lack of community based screening, improper referral procedures and incapacity to handle the number of cases. Therefore assistance is required to increase the capacity of hospitals by providing therapeutic formula, drugs, blankets and anthropometric equipment.

Funding for cholera prevention

UNICEF and the Irish Government have signed an MoU for a total of US$100,000 for water and sanitation activities intended to prevent cholera outbreaks in Zaka, Bikita, Chiredzi and Chipinge Districts. Since the outbreak in late August, there have been 511 cases and 25 deaths (5% case fatality). Two new cases and one confirmed death are reported from Chiredzi.

WHO and GoZ agree to establish drug distribution and monitoring mechanisms

With the exception of Masvingo, proposed drug distribution mechanisms have been agreed with all provinces. Drug allocations for Midlands, Matabeleland North and South, and Manicaland will be transported and temporarily stored at Natpharm Provincial Stores.

To deal with difficulties in transporting drugs, provinces were urged to collaborate and co-ordinate with various stakeholders during Civil Protection meetings to facilitate both humanitarian and regular drug distributions.

Responding to concerns regarding the safe-guarding of drugs, it was agreed that the MoHCW should accelerate the existing burglar-proofing programme while communities are mobilised to play a major role in protection. Despite such measures, WHO indicated the need to find a lasting solution to drug thefts at institutions.

Zimbabwe is faced with a critical shortage of vaccines because the MoHCW cannot meet the foreign currency component of procurement. There is no funding for BCG, DTP-Hep B, DTP and DT antigens in the coming year (2003) and so the WHO Country Office is currently developing a proposal for critical donor funding. Following discussions with WHO and GoZ, UNDP has agreed to immediately provide US$400,000 for vaccines and capacity building in the health sector.

Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC)

The UNICEF project on improved livelihoods of OVC through the provision of adequate safe water and sanitation facilities specifically targeted at OVC is being accelerated in the four districts of Bulilimamangwe, Gokwe North, Mt. Darwin and Buhera. Eighty-five (85) latrine builders have been trained in Mt Darwin and Bulilimamangwe and Buhera Districts. Older children and women comprise the majority of the trainees. During the past two weeks, 18 Ventilated Improved Pit latrines have been completed and building materials have been distributed to 148 OVC households. Training of community leaders in leadership roles and responsibilities, project planning and monitoring has been completed in all the targeted wards.

SADC malaria day

UNICEF and WHO Representatives attended the launch of the SADC malaria day in Gokwe district on 11 November. The district was selected as it has highest levels of illness and death due to malaria. Both agencies provided 10,000 insecticide-treated nets (ITNs).

Calendar of Humanitarian Assistance
Co-ordination Meetings, Working Groups and Activities

25-29/11: Field trip countrywide by the Land and Environment Thematic Group

26/11: Health WG: Contact WHO

27-28/11: Humanitarian Planning Meeting: Contact RRU (at Humanitarian Coordinator's Office)

28/11: Agriculture Recovery WG: Contact FAO

28/11: Humanitarian Briefing: Contact RRU

29/11: Water & Sanitation WG: Contact UNICEF

29/11: Commemoration of national World AIDS Day in Bulililamangwe

2-14/12: ECHO Regional Support Mission on multi-sectoral programme assessment

4-7/12: Mission of the Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS

5/12: Meeting on links between HIV/AIDS and the humanitarian crisis: Contact UNAIDS

9/12: Humanitarian Co-ordinator's meeting with representatives of GoZ and the international community: Contact HC Office (date tentative)

10/12: Urban Vulnerability Assessment WG: Contact: Fewsnet/WFP

18/12: Food Aid Co-ordination Meeting: Contact WFP

Articles for publication in the next Situation Report, should be submitted by 4 December to RRU at the email address: rru.zw@undp.org

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

This Situation Report can be accessed on the Web at: www.reliefweb.int then click on "by country", then click on "Zimbabwe"

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