Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 29 Oct 2002

Social Services Cabinet Action Committee/UNCT link developed
By invitation, the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator and Country Team continue to participate in the GoZ Social Services Cabinet Action Committee. The committee meets fortnightly and is developing as a discussion forum for policy issues in humanitarian assistance. The major topic at the last meeting was the recently completed national assessment by the Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC), which has caused some concern for the UN and the GoZ, revealing serious malnutrition problems in children under five years and primary school children. The GoZ has allocated ZW$5 billion to supplemental feeding programmes. However, constraints to local processors of CSB means that food is simply not available. Therefore, short-term planning must include an increase in imports and medium to long-term planning must seek to enhance local production capacity.

UNICEF intensifies emergency response

In response to worsening levels of malnutrition, UNICEF supported Ministry of Health to hold a Training of Trainer's workshop on management of severe malnutrition. A total of 32 health workers from Manicaland, Ma-shonaland Central, Ma-shonaland West, Masvingo and Harare participated in the workshop, which is preliminary to the UNICEF-supported therapeutic feeding programme.

The supplementary feeding of more than 189,000 children below five years continues in the five UNICEF-supported districts of Buhera, Chirumanzu, Mudzi and Gokwe North and Mt Darwin.

Click here to view Map of Zimbabwe: Overview of Child Supplimentary Feeding Programmes (jpg format)

Vulnerability Assessment Committees in Southern Africa region meet to plan activities

The National Vulnerability Assessment Committees, the SADC FANR Regional VAC, UN Agencies and partner agencies met in Victoria Falls on 17-18 October to review the August rolling assessment and develop strategies for the mid-term assessment planned for December 2002. The participants at the meeting indicated that they fully appreciate that the level of acute food insecurity, particularly in Zimbabwe, has several causes and consequences. The August food security assessments indicated distinct multi-sectoral linkages, including HIV/AIDS, agricultural inputs and nutrition. It was agreed that the December assessment should be comprehensive multi-sectoral assessments, with food security as just one of many components

Cholera outbreak persists

A cholera outbreak in Masvingo Province, first reported in August 2002, seemed to be subsiding, but has resurfaced with a new death in Bikita. The duration of the illness in patients had visibly increased and the cumulative Case Fatality Rate is 9.9% - an abnormally high rate in comparison with others in the region. At the request of the MoH&CW, WHO responded through provision of technical assistance, procurement of drugs and supplies training, health education material development and distribution and provision of diagnostic equipment.

In addition to the procurement of drugs and supplies for cholera control, a total order of $US2.5 million of drugs and supplies have been made. A large proportion of this order is now in country and will be distributed by NATPHARM to the district level.

In preparation for the approaching rainy season, a team comprised of WHO and MoH&CW representatives has visited all provinces in the last two weeks, working with provincial health teams to prepare for epidemics, cholera, waterborne diseases and malaria.

Supply of vaccines

A shortage of foreign currency across the country is affecting the national procurement of vaccines. MoH&CW have had difficulties in procurements for the third and fourth quarter of 2002: GoZ is currently faces an outstanding bill of US$3,762,976 and there is a further requirement of US$2,750,011 for vaccines to be imported in the first two quarters of 2003. Assistance is urgently being sought from donors to fill this funding gap.


UNICEF has advanced US$122,000 to seven districts, intensifying emergency HIV/AIDS activities. These funds facilitated:

  • Support for provision of sanitary facilities for child- and grandparent-headed households;
  • Provision of bed nets for child-headed households in malaria-affected districts;
  • Provision of home-based care kits in households with children looking after sick parents/other children;
  • Support for peer education, counselling, and related youth-friendly initiatives; and
  • Logistical support for monitoring child-headed households & home-based care activities.

Preparation for the 2002/2003 agricultural season

Acquisition of agricultural inputs such as seed and fertiliser remains a problem to most farmers. GoZ has reserved most of the available seed stocks in the major seed houses and new orders from other buyers will have to consider imports, which could take longer to arrive.

There has been considerable bilateral support to NGOs for the provision of agricultural inputs (around 400,000 packs of different seed/fertiliser compositions). FAO is the lead agency in the UN-established Agricultural Rehabilitation Working Group, assisting in the co-ordination of NGO and agency activities. Districts with direct FAO interventions have been identified, based on gaps in coverage of input distributions by NGOs and negotiations are underway with implementing partners. Around 48,300 input packs have been ordered for the FAO programme, and 5,000 additional packs are possibly underway.

FAO is still requires funding for its Agricultural Inputs and Animal Diseases Control programmes. In particular, foreign exchange is needed for logistics and procurement of vaccines for Foot and Mouth Disease, where GoZ would collaborate through provision of fencing and local labour costs.

WFP distributions double

WFP is on track to dramatically increase its food distributions in the coming months. The November distribution plan calls for approximately 50,000MT of food to be distributed to some 3 million beneficiaries in 35 districts. WFP has plans to feed 5.9 million people by January of next year, provided the necessary capacity and donor resources are made available.

The 10 implementing NGO partners of WFP are engaged in a massive registration effort nationwide. In the past month, they have doubled the number of registered beneficiaries to over 1.9 million. The vast majority of the new beneficiaries will receive WFP relief food before the end of October. In principle, an NGO partner is now organized to operate in each of the 57 districts.

Need for private sector grain imports

The amount of food currently being imported and sold by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is insufficient in comparison to national consumption requirements. GoZ's foreign currency shortage severely curtails GMB's ability to import the volume of cereals needed to feed the entire country. The private sector can, and should, play an important role in alleviating Zimbabwe's food shortages. Lifting the GMB's monopoly on grain imports is the quickest and surest route to increasing access to food.

Dairy and livestock industries in decline

Ninety-seven percent (97%) of the country's milk is supplied by the large-scale commercial farming sector.

In recent years, this sub sector has been affected by:

  • The land reform policies and implementation;
  • High inflation rates impacting on the inputs;
  • Severe shortage of stock feed on the market; and
  • Shortage of foreign currency.
Milk supply and demand
Million litres
Total monthly demand
Current supply
Shortfall per month

Milk production has been in sharp decline over the last three years. Forty-one percent of producers have terminated operations; the national dairy herd has declined by 21% (from 96,000 in 1997 to 70,000 in 2001) and is projected to drop to just 50,000 in 2002. Those with remaining stock are not necessarily producing milk: stock feed is not readily available, and is prohibitively costly. The non-availability/high cost of stock feed is also a major constraint to the livestock industry.

Maize per tonne per use
Type of maize
Cost per tonne in Zw$
1 tonne for consumption ex-GMB
9 100
1 tonne ex farm producer price to GMB
35 000
1 tonne imported stock feed
122 000

This, in addition to Sections 5 and 8 of the Land Acquisition Act, has lead farmers to de-stock dairy and beef herds. This, in turn, exacerbates the shortage in dairy products with retail outlets already forced to ration. To restore regular livestock numbers would take three years, in the best of cases and therefore any conceivable return to normalcy will take considerable time.

El Nino warning strengthens

The threat of El Nino has gone from weak to moderate and continues to increase, according to the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction. Additional details can be found at the website: http://iri.ldeo.columbia.edu/climate/cid/latest

Most parts of the Southern African region are predicted to be drier than usual. On this basis, Zimbabwe is likely to experience weather patterns similar to the previous year when rainfall was too high from November through December and too low from January.

UN and MoPSL&SW collaborate in farm worker programme

The UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator's Relief and Recovery Unit will produce a statistical analysis of the situation and needs of farm workers, ex-farm workers and their families. Projected to commence by mid-November, a survey will be carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, as well as representatives of other organizations, associations and relevant community groups. RRU Senior Humanitarian Advisor, Mr. Andrew Timpson will act as the UN Supervisory Officer.

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