Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 3 Mar 2004

UN/GoZ Humanitarian Retreat: Strengthening Partnership in Humanitarian Work
The United Nations agencies in Zimbabwe and the Government of Zimbabwe underscored the need for cooperation and coordination in humanitarian organisations involved in relief work.

The call was made at Victoria Falls where the UN and government had a two-day humanitarian retreat which, among other objectives, was aimed at exploring the humanitarian challenges facing the country in 2004 as well as to strengthen partnership.

Several presentations were made, highlighting some of the major humanitarian challenges being faced in 2004. These included the following:

  • Rising food insecurity in urban and periurban areas;

  • High inflation and rising unemployment leading to increased levels of poverty;

  • Preserving the health of HIV/AIDS patients and halting the spread of the disease;

  • Limited funding for the social sectors particularly education and health;

  • Avoiding dependence on food aid; and

  • Reducing the disease burden and addressing issue of nutrition particularly for people living with AIDS (PLWA).

Some of the proposals to facilitate effective delivery of humanitarian assistance were identified as:
  • The need for a coordinated approach to humanitarian assistance, monitoring and assessments by both government and the UN;

  • All parties to adhere to humanitarian principles in delivery of humanitarian assistance;

  • The need for a common understanding of the humanitarian situation such as who are the vulnerable people;

  • A common understanding of recovery and the need to move from relief to recovery;

  • The need for more dialogue so that assistance is customized to the socio-cultural environment of Zimbabwe;

  • In addition to the UN and government, partnership should include a wide range of other players such as the donor community, NGOs, private sector and civil society organisations;

  • Information sharing by all stakeholders to promote transparency and build mutual trust;

  • Need to strengthen and build capacity of local structures to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance;

Participants at the retreat were also in agreement that resource mobilization is critical for the success of humanitarian interventions. Resources for the social sectors are far below requirements and there is need for a lot of advocacy through mechanisms such as government/donor and UN meetings and round table discussions.

Stakeholder Recovery Workshop

There has been growing recognition of the need to get the country on the path from relief to recovery at all levels. While macro economic issues might be of greater prominence at the national level, at the micro level, the recovery process can initiate a trend to reverse the declining trend in people’s livelihoods, means and capacities and community and social infrastructures.

The Government, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and UNDP have been discussing plans for holding an recovery stakeholder workshop. A stakeholders (GoZ, private sector, civil society and development partners) consultative meeting, led by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, to engage in a constructive dialogue on the country’s recovery is in the final planning stage. This would build consensus on:

  • The need to move from relief to recovery
  • What is meant by recovery in 2004?
  • What are the priority areas for intervention?
  • What is the role of stakeholders in particular development practices?

At the recent GoZ /UN retreat held in Victoria Falls, GoZ was very explicit on the priority to be accorded to recovery in 2004. GoZ is committed to putting in place measures for recovery in 2004, with support from development partners.

Rising Levels of Vulnerability in Urban Areas

In September-October 2003, the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Zim-VAC), in collaboration with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), conducted a comprehensive vulnerability assessment. Some of the objectives of the assessment were to identify food security problems and coping mechanisms of urban households, by poverty level, and to establish a practical system for monitoring urban food and livelihood insecurity as a way to guide social safety net policies and programs. Using per capita expenditure as a proxy for income, the Assessment divided urban households into four income categories - very poor, poor, middle and better off. About 72 percent of the urban population falls below the poverty line (51 percent very poor and 21 percent poor), a rate that has nearly doubled since 1995. Manicaland and Bulawayo have the highest percentage of poor households. Elderly- and female-headed households living in squatter camps and high-density suburbs are most likely to be poor.

After summing the caloric contribution of all available household food during September and using daily caloric requirements for different age groups of household members, the Assessment calculated the ideal monthly calorie requirements for each household. Those households whose daily energy intake fell below the required level were considered food insecure. Very few urban households had received food aid. Strikingly, nearly 2.5 million urban Zimbabweans - about 65.7 percent of the total urban population - were food insecure, an increase of 1.4 million people from April 2003 estimates. Poverty and food insecurity are closely intertwined. More than half of the households headed by orphans, widows/females, the elderly and the unemployed were found to be food insecure - as well as nearly one-third (30.9 percent) of ex-farm worker households.

The Assessment sought to understand how households in different income groups were exposed to a particular shock (external vulnerability) and their capacity to cope with that shock (internal vulnerability). More than 90 percent of households across all income categories said that inflation was the most important shock to their livelihoods, expenditures and level of food consumption. In September 2003, the annual inflation reached 456 percent (and has since climbed above 622.8 percent). Inflation is particularly debilitating because wage and salary adjustments usually lag far behind the cost of living (Figure 1) for a household of six in Harare.

The shocks of rising school fees, utilities and unemployment/retrenchment were identified next. In contrast, few households reported drought and food shortages as shocks, despite Zimbabwe’s sizable grain deficit. Urban households in all categories struggled to diversify their sources of income as a hedge against any single shock.

Market Assistance Pilot Programme Offers Relief to Urban Food Insecure

Plans are currently underway to expand the Market Assistance Pilot Programme (MAPP). The USAID funded programme that was set up by World Vision, Care and CRS, to try to address food shortages in urban areas, has been in operation in Bulawayo since the end of September 2003. When the programme started, sorghum donated by the US was being sold in 40 high-density urban suburbs of Bulawayo at a subsidized price of ZW$1,900 for a 5kg bag. Sorghum is a traditionally grown crop in the drier areas of Zimbabwe like the Matebeleland provinces. The recent increases in the price for maize meal (from ZW$4,000/10kg bag to ZW$10,000/10kg bag as of end January), has seen demand for MAPP sorghum increase dramatically, from 30MT per day at the beginning of January to 90MT per day at the months end. With a price gap of ZW$6-7,000 per 10kg bag against maize meal, MAPP sorghum began appearing in greater quantities in informal markets and those outside the MAPP target areas. The large price differential, compounded by the food shortages being experienced across the country, appear to have created an incentive for individuals to engage in hoarding and reselling of MAPP sorghum. Observed re-selling occurred at ZW$6,100 - ZW$8,000 per 10kg bag. In an effort at substantially reducing this incentive, and, most importantly, in an effort to keep in line with inflation, the price of MAPP sorghum was increased from ZW$2,000 and ZW$4,000 respectively for 5kg and 10kg bags to ZW$3,000 and ZW$6,000 respectively.

World Vision (the lead) submitted two proposals to USAID that will effectively expand the current programme. One outlines plans for how proceeds from the sales can be used. The other aims to support, through incentive schemes, the creation of vertical linkages in the production chain, for example encourage millers to work with producers on the production of sorghum. In addition to this the intention is to increase the geographical coverage of the programme to include urban areas in Gweru, Chitungwiza and other high-density suburbs of Harare.

Boost for Maternal Health

United Nations Population Fund, (UNFPA) donated emergency obstetric equipment worth more than Z$600 million to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare on 17 February 2004.

The equipment, which includes blood pressure apparatus, delivery kits, weighing scales and vacuum extractors, will be distributed to central, provincial and district hospitals.

The equipment will strengthen the capacity of the country’s health service delivery system, which over the past five years has faced major challenges including the shortage of basic equipment, medical supplies and drugs. The critical shortage of emergency obstetric care equipment and supplies has resulted in a steady increase in reproductive health related morbidity and mortality.

The donation from UNFPA will contribute to efforts to reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio from 695 per 100 000 live births in 1999 to 174 per 100 000 live births by 2015 as stated in the Millennium Development Goal

Speaking at the handover ceremony in Harare, the Secretary for Health and Child Welfare, Dr. Elizabeth Xaba, said the country’s health delivery system was faced with a major challenge of reducing maternal morbidity and mortality. She said apart from the need to reverse and mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS and improving access to health services, there was also need to ensure availability of essential drugs and equipment necessary in providing quality obstetric care. UNFPA Representative, Dr. Bruce Campbell, said UNFPA will continue to mobilize additional resources to ensure that every primary health care facility and referral centre is equipped with the required essential emergency obstetric equipment.

Agriculture and Food Security Brief

A detailed Food Security Brief is published monthly and can be accessed on the zimrelief web site www.zimrelief.info

Agriculture and Research Extension (AREX) reported that the main field activity at the moment is weeding and application of top dressing fertilizer. The first maize crop, which was planted with the early rains, is now being consumed as green mealies. The crop, which was established from mid December on wards, is doing very well given the widely distributed rains that are currently falling. The rains have also improved the grazing for livestock.

Updated coordination database figures show that close to a million households have received agricultural input assistance (mainly seeds) through the humanitarian community. This excludes the government distributions. Based on seed sales figures and AREX surveys the total area planted to maize is estimated at around 1,3 million hectares at the end of February. Farmers have, encouraged by the late rains, planted well into February. The very late planting has increased the overall area, but yield levels of these groups are generally low. The late crop would require rains well into April in order to yield a meaningful crop. Based on past yields in the communal lands taking into account other factors such as; the difficult season, the late planting and the limited availability of inputs yield levels of around 0,8 MT/ha in the current season seem feasible. The final yield level will largely depend on the continuation of the rains and to a smaller extent on fertiliser (Nitrogen) available to the farmer.

Capacity Building Program on Project Planning and Disaster Programming for Local NGOs

Response to the current humanitarian crisis by some local NGOs has been characterized by hiring new staff within a short period of time. Most of the new staff have to learn on the job and in some cases, this has undermined effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. Due to capacity gaps, some local NGOs have been taking a more reactive rather than proactive approach when responding to the humanitarian situation.

In an effort to address some of these capacity gaps, Food Security Network (FOSENET) successfully conducted training in Project Planning and Disaster programming for its members from 16 to 20 February 2004. This was made possible by financial assistance from Save the Children UK. This is the second group of trainees to go through the programme after the training of the first group late last year 2003. The training is an on going process meant to build capacity of local NGOs that are involved in disaster management to effectively design, and implement humanitarian projects. It also intends to enhance knowledge and understanding of the sphere project and how it can be used in disaster programming.

FOSENET plans to provide training in other critical areas identified by the participants as necessary to effective humanitarian operations. Some of the identified areas for future training will be in budgeting and budget control as well as project monitoring and evaluation.

UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator / RRU

Information Reference of Humanitarian Assistance Meetings March 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

4 March ‘04
Nutrition Working Group
Contact: Thelma Bamhare

18 March ’04
Child Protection Working Group
Contact: Ron Pouwels

19 March ‘04
Food Aid Coordination Meeting
Contact: Darlington Sarupinda

24 March ‘04
Urban Sector Working Group
Contact: Ruth Butao

25 March ‘04
Emergency Agriculture Inputs
Contact: Morris Mudiwa

26 March ‘04
Matebeleland NGO Forum Co-ordination
Contact: Norbert Dube
Oxfam Canada

26 March ‘04
Water and Sanitation Working Group
Contact: Maxwell Jonga

Articles for publication in the next Situation Report should be submitted by 23 March 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