Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 29 Jan 2003

UN Special Envoys in Zimbabwe
Following up findings from their first missions, Mr James Morris and Mr Stephen Lewis' second Zimbabwe mission (23 to 25 January 2003) re-assessed the humanitarian situation in the region, reviewed response efforts and co-ordination mechanisms implemented to date. The mission placed special emphasis on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the region, including its long-term implications on food security. In addition, the mission focussed on how assistance measures can better serve the needs of women whose lives are most at risk and who provide the lifeline for most communities. In this regard, Mr Stephen Lewis stressed that there is need to prioritise women in the HIV/AIDS interventions. Furthermore there is need to raise awareness among the international community to mobilize resources and support HIV/AIDS mitigation and prevention.

During the briefing with donors, Mr James Morris noted that the two Envoys had met the President of Zimbabwe. He emphasised that more than 15 million people in Southern Africa are in need of food (January to March 2003). For Zimbabwe alone, the figure has risen from 6.7 million in August to 7.2 million by December 2002. Donors were urged to provide more resources to avert disaster. The Envoys indicated that the following issues had been discussed at the GoZ/UN Mission meeting:

  • NGO registration has been improved. Implementing partners for WFP have risen from 4 to 12. However, given the magnitude of the crisis, more partners are still needed.

  • Three MSF NGOs (Spain, Holland and Belgium) are at advanced stages of registration processing by GoZ. These NGOs will be particularly important in assisting with non-food humanitarian responses in local communities.

  • Procedurally, the GMO issue has been resolved. Currently, WFP is milling US-donated maize grain at a National Foods facility in Bulawayo, which has a weekly capacity of 2800 MT. To date, WFP has milled over 35,000MT of maize grain. WFP plans to complete milling over 80,000MT by mid-March. For this to happen, additional milling will have to take place in Harare, which has a weekly capacity of 5,000MT.

  • Agricultural recovery will require more international assistance.

  • Around 1 million people in urban areas are in dire need of food. The private sector has to play a role, particularly in providing retail food access to the urban population.

  • More humanitarian support is required by the former ex-commercial farm workers.

  • HIV/AIDS is killing about 2,500 Zimbabweans per week. Humanitarian agencies are encouraged to meet the challenges of this crisis through increased nutritional and public health support at a time when government capacity is weakening.

Special Envoys mission meets NGOs

During the meeting with NGOs, the Deputy Director of OCHA-Geneva noted the envoys were looking at the humanitarian situation in Southern Africa in order to advise the UN Secretary General and energize UN Agencies working in the region to intensify efforts on the deepening humanitarian crisis.

The Mission informed the group that since the previous mission by Mr Morris, seven UN agencies have been established in Johannesburg. Regional information management and analysis have been put in place. She stressed that one major objective was to focus on women in humanitarian interventions, particularly in the HIV/AIDS programmes. Several issues of concern were raised:

  • What models of good practice are the NGOs involved in, while trying to reduce the impact of HIV?

  • How can co-ordination be improved in dealing with the HIV pandemic in Zimbabwe?

  • How do NGOs see their current capacity to respond?

  • Can NGOs continue to increase their capacity to meet increasing needs in food aid and health, water, education and HIV demands?

In response to the briefing by the Mission, NGOs noted that there is need to urgently update nutritional data by conducting assessments which would present a clear picture of the current situation. In addition, the UN needs to spearhead a compatible recovery programme with NGO and other partners. Furthermore, Emergency Response and Recovery programmes have to include children who are becoming more vulnerable.

Humanitarian principles discussed

During a meeting with the NGO community held on 21 January, UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator noted that there was need to share concerns pertaining to humanitarian assistance, response and recovery. The importance of keeping close contact with Government at both policy and operational levels, through field visits was emphasised. As another means of strengthening partnership, a workshop on humanitarian principles is being jointly prepared by selected NGOs and the UN for participation by all stakeholders (donor/GoZ/NGO/UN agency).

Some NGOs noted that despite the vulnerability assessments, farm workers have not been included in the main assistance programming. Indications are that farm workers are more vulnerable than the communal population, which is now receiving WFP assistance. There was a suggestion that vulnerability assessments need to cover the commercial farming areas (for both the ex-farm workers and the newly resettled) and identify the most affected in need of humanitarian food assistance. NGOs felt that international NGOs have to take part and mobilise more resources for farm workers. The Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) reported that they have completed a National Survey on farm workers and the results will be shared shortly.

NGOs stressed the need for information, particularly on nutritional levels. More information on urban vulnerability and nutrition should be collected. There are increased HIV/AIDS related deaths that have been observed particularly in the farm worker households. It was suggested that there is need to inter-relate nutrition and HIV/AIDS in programme design and implementation.

Food importation and distribution

Grain Marketing Board (GMB)

GoZ has reported that the total maize that was imported from February to December 2002 is 685,784MT.

The national maize annual requirement for both human and livestock from July 2003 to June 2004 is 1,895,843MT. GoZ projects an estimated maize production of 571,347MT for the 2002/2003 production season, of which only 56,335MT is expected to flow to GMB. GoZ estimates a deficit of 1,093,531MT for the 2003/2004 marketing year.

An important humanitarian consideration by stakeholders is the issue of resource availability and mobilisation for such a huge food deficit. This has to be programmed in time to avert the crisis. On the part of GoZ, there is need to reconsider the involvement of the private sector in the importation of food commodities. There is also need to review the pricing policies to allow effective participation of the private sector.

WFP pipeline

Mr James Morris stressed that Southern Africa is facing a daunting task with regard to food and non-food crises which donors have to appreciate and provide all the possible humanitarian support. He indicated that the WFP pipeline is going to increase food imports from 40,000MT in January to 50,000MT in February and possibly 70-80,000MT in March. However, pledges to WFP will last only up to end-March/early-April, so new commitments are urgently needed.

GMB Imports

Quantity (MT)

Source: Government of Zimbabwe

NGOs support to farm workers

NGOs are providing support to vulnerable ex-farmworkers. Some NGOs are providing basic food including rice, a little maize meal, beans, kapenta, a bar of soap and some money if the ex-workers intend to move elsewhere. FCTZ indicated that they are providing general feeding to 100,000 beneficiaries in four provinces. These farm workers have either remained on the farms or have moved to informal settlements. In addition, they have a small programme providing inputs for 2,500 households.

World Relief indicated that they are exploring support of the ex-farmworkers in partnership with CCAP. FOSENET is now involved in relief aid, co-ordination, and monitoring of these communities. FOST is working in Manicaland Province, Chipinge District: they have targeted 16,000 children including farm based children and primary school children.

Government/UN/NGO Mission to Binga District

The UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and Director of Save the Children (UK) visited Binga (16-17 January). The purpose of the visit was to assess the humanitarian situation in the Binga area where Save the Children (UK) has been operating for the past 22 years. The mission noted that Save the Children (UK) is the key humanitarian agency that is working in the area, targeting 130,000 people with food aid. During the visit, the Minister stressed that clear and transparent information is essential in relief co-ordination. He also acknowledged that transport is one of the major constraints hindering distribution of relief.

Urban vulnerability and interventions

In its overview to the Special Envoy, the UNCT noted that the level of vulnerability to food insecurity is increasing at an astonishing rate in urban areas of Zimbabwe. Market distortions, growing unemployment, a thriving parallel market for basic commodities and the skyrocketing inflation rate have aggravated vulnerability of urban populations. As coping strategies, vulnerable groups have become highly mobile moving from high-density housing to backyard shacks and peri-urban settlements.

In response, WFP has initiated a round table discussion with representatives of GoZ (MoH&CW and MoPSLSW), Harare City Council, donors and stakeholders. The intention is to prioritise the most vulnerable groups in Harare for the under 6 children.

The pilot project in five high-density areas in Harare would be implemented through partners (HELP and ACF) and in close co-operation with the local authorities. DFID, the Red Cross, local NGOs and a number of church groups are reported to have initiated urban interventions. It is anticipated that this will be filtered to other cities and towns.

The Minister of Health and Child Welfare indicated that there is need to include urban areas in the nutrition assessment.

Emergency relief in the agricultural sector

FAO noted that for the 2003/2004 production season, agricultural relief assistance would be needed for 200,000 households in small livestock restocking, and 20,000 households in the fisheries sector. Furthermore about 300,000 households would benefit from Foot and Mouth disease control measures.

GoZ reported that the threat of Foot and Mouth outbreak remains high. Chipinge, Buhera, Marange, Zaka and Buhera Districts have reported outbreaks of the disease. This has been attributed to the infection emanating from the Save Wildlife Conservancy, where cattle have entered. In its sectoral priority, FAO has included 'control of foot and mouth diseases' and 'restocking of small livestock'. GoZ recommended that larger allocations of foreign currency are critical for livestock inputs (drugs, vaccines, chemicals, stock feed).


The Ministry of Lands and Agriculture has reported that in order to improve the co-ordination of the livestock industry and to increase livestock production, a new Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services has been set up. About 1,000 veterinary livestock technicians and 500 dip attendants are being recruited.

GoZ also acknowledged that the current drought and shortage of stock feed is having a major impact on the livestock industry. Livestock production continues to be adversely affected by the serious shortage of stock feed as reflected in the production of milk, pork, poultry and ostrich. Some 20,000 head of cattle have died in Matebeleland South due to drought since October 2002, and livestock are generally very thin.

The dairy industry has been further affected by the decrease in the number of dairy farms from 437 in 1995 to 310 in 2003. In addition, there is shortage of cleaning chemicals, drugs and roughage.

Envoys stress HIV/AIDS interventions

During the meeting with donors, Mr Morris indicated that response for food assistance has been positive. However, there is need to mobilize resources for non-food assistance. The Envoys participated in a field visit to a child supplementary feeding programme run by World Vision International. The programme has 2,250 children being fed a breakfast of porridge seven days a week. The field trip also included a visit to a home-care HIV/AIDS programme in the same informal settlement of Dzivarasekwa. Mr Stephen Lewis emphasised the importance of linking food aid interventions/nutrition to HIV/AIDS.

Mr Lewis also emphasised that the bulk of work should be to focus on women and HIV/AIDS. Every single organization should take this as a priority. Ms Julia Taft added that the issue of human resource depletion had been raised by the mission, and there is willingness on the part of GoZ to map out mitigation strategies in conjunction with the UN agencies.

A better perspective at the regional level, linking HIV/AIDS to nutrition and other sectors, would help increase programming.

UNAIDS steps up efforts on HIV/AIDS

UNAIDS reported that the decentralised approach established by the National AIDS Council HIV/AIDS projects will continue to be implemented through Provincial, District and Ward Committees. These committees must be strengthened during 2003 to reinforce co-ordinated efforts to fight the pandemic. UNAIDS and the Theme Group will continue the support for an integrated response based on the national policy on HIV/AIDS. The main target group for prevention are youth, with a special emphasis on the girl child and young women.

UNAIDS stressed that advocacy for mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in relief and recovery interventions and programmes is a key priority. A focus on co-ordination is a priority. The agency noted that HIV/AIDS is a particularly complex factor in the crisis, requiring a coherent response across sectors and through short and longer-term interventions. A co-ordination mechanism is currently being established by the National AIDS Council with assistance from UNAIDS. There is an urgent need to provide human and financial resources for this work.


Due to a variety of reasons, including food shortages, a critical shortage of basic essential drugs and the inaccessibility and unaffordability of health services, UNFPA predicted that the year 2003 would be worse than the previous years with regards to reproductive health, women and youth vulnerability. The increasing risk to the lives of women is reflected by a dramatic increase in maternal mortality and morbidity, increases in home deliveries, and prevalence of teenage pregnancy, with some mothers as young as 14 years. The situation is compounded by increasing poverty levels and the ever increasing HIV/AIDS pandemic.

UNFPA has been focussing on women, youth and adolescents. Maternal morbidity and mortality, STIs and HIV among these vulnerable groups are considered as top priority. To this end, UNFPA held a brainstorming workshop in Kadoma (15-17 January 2003) with GoZ, NGOs and implementing partners to come up with UNFPA's strategic response to the challenges. The main recommendations focused on interventions for reducing maternal morbidity and mortality, a minimum package of services for youths and another for poverty alleviation, empowerment of women and HIV prevention, all of which require funding. Matebeleland North, Matebeleland South, Manicaland and Mashonaland Central were identified as priority provinces. Within these provinces, focus is on rural (UNDP) initiatives.

UNFPA has completed a monograph on "The Social Dimensions of the Humanitarian Crisis in Zimbabwe", focussing on maternal mortality and youth vulnerability.

Disease Surveillance

Supply of vaccines

WHO reported that vaccine supply in the country remains very critical with no immediate solution available. MoHCW is now considering changing some of its immunization policies, such as moving from the supermarket approach of vaccination to scheduled days of vaccinating in an effort to reduce vaccine wastage. This seriously compromises the gains that have been made over the years and the implications on immunization coverage cannot be over-emphasied. WHO/UNICEF are continuing efforts to find solutions to avert the effects of the current crisis.

Other drugs

The availability of vital drugs in the country remains critical with no significant change within the past two weeks. WHO and MoHCW are closely monitoring the situation. Drugs and medical supplies procured under the HARP appeal are now being distributed to all provinces. WHO reported that the provinces will be assisted to distribute these supplies to the respective health institutions starting with rural facilities, which service the most vulnerable populations under the current crisis.

Disease surveillance

Weekly surveillance data reports from MoHCW reveal that timeliness and completeness of reporting of epidemic prone diseases improved over the last two weeks. Systematic analysis and utilisation at operational level remain a constraint. However, the current training in Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) is expected to facilitate systematic approach to disease surveillance and response. After the completion of the two national Training of Trainers (ToT) courses, training at provincial, district and sub-district levels is expected to take place between February and May 2003. This training will also involve Harare and Bulawayo cities.

Diarrhoeal Diseases

On the cholera situation there were only 9 cases reported in Masvingo (Chiredzi District) but verbal reports from Beitbridge indicate that diarrhoeal cases are still occurring. No confirmations have been made due to shortage of laboratory reagents. However, the situation is getting under control. During the second week of 2003 there was a total of 3,927 diarrhoeal cases nationally, an increase of 21% compared to the previous week. The highest number of cases came from Mashonaland Central Province.


There has been a significant increase in malaria cases particularly in Manicaland Province with Mutasa, Chipinge and Nyanga reporting the highest number of cases. The total clinical cases reported countrywide was 12,045. The indoor residual spraying exercise is behind schedule but its now expected to be completed by the end of February. There is no adequate insecticide due to inadequacy of foreign currency. The drug situation for malaria remains adequate.

UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator / RRU

Calendar of Humanitarian Assistance

Co-ordination Meetings, Working Groups and Activities February 2003

5th Feb '03 Briefing the Diplomatic Community: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
5th Feb '03 Education WG: contact Carla Rosa-Borges, UNICEF.
6th Feb '03 UN Humanitarian Agencies and NGOs: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
7th Feb '03 Urban Vulnerability WG: contact E. Vhurumuku, FEWSNet.
10th Feb '03 Friends of Humanitarian Co-ordinator: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
10th Feb '03 GOZ/Donors/UN meeting: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
13th Feb '03 Child Protection WG: contact M. Huijbregts, UNICEF.
14th Feb '03 Food Aid Co-ordination Meeting: contact D. Sarupinda, WFP.
18th Feb '03 HC monthly humanitarian meeting with NGOs: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
24th Feb '03 Friends of Humanitarian Co-ordinator: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
24th Feb '03 GOZ/Donors/UN meeting: contact A. Rosing, UNDP.
24th Feb '03 DfID/Partner NGO Co-ordination meeting: contact C. Hungwe, DfID.
28th Feb '03 Water and Sanitation WG: contact M. Jonga, UNICEF.

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 22 January to RRU at the email address: rru.zw@undp.org

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