Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report 5 May 2004

More Needed To Fight Malaria
As Africa celebrated Africa Malaria Day on Sunday 25th April, the number of malaria cases in Zimbabwe this year continues to increase, threatening the lives of many, especially children. This year, many malaria prevention activities, like spraying, did not take place. In addition the price of Insecticide Treated Net (ITN), normally purchased through District Revolving Funds, have jumped from $14,000 to more than $35,000 each which is too expensive for most districts and availability has become a problem. This is leaving many rural communities more vulnerable to the deadly disease. According to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the cumulative figures for the year (as of April 21st), now stand at 177,253 cases of malaria presented and 439 deaths.

Although anti malaria drugs are available, UNICEF is concerned globally about increasing drug resistance. Carol Bellamy, UNICEF Executive Director, marked Africa Malaria by calling on pharmaceutical firms and donor countries to get behind an initiative to introduce a life-saving new drug to hundreds of millions of people affected by the disease each year.

Chloroquine, the least expensive and most widely used anti-malarial drug, has lost its effectiveness in many parts of Africa. In recent years, a new, more expensive treatment has entered the market. This new treatment, called artemisinin-containing combination therapy (ACT), is recommended by WHO and UNICEF in areas where there is growing resistance to chloroquine.

Because ACTs are comparatively expensive and currently available only in limited quantities, UNICEF and partners are working with global manufacturers to expand the production of high-quality ACTs so that every child and community that needs these drugs can access them readily. UNICEF is also calling on donor nations to help malaria-endemic countries pay for the new drugs. A full course treatment of Coartem, the only co-formulated ACT at this time, costs US$2.40 per person - five to ten times more than chloroquine.

In Zimbabwe, UNICEF continues to work with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, WHO and other partners, to support the provision of anti malaria drugs, provide ITNs and support prevention efforts, especially through the promotion of integrated management of childhood illnesses (IMCI), that includes malaria. Cholroquine remains effective in most parts of Zimbabwe and as such is still used as the first line of defence against malaria. In those parts where resistance to the drug has been detected combination therapy is being used.

Recently, with support from NORAD, UNICEF has distributed through the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare approximately US$100,000 worth of quinine and sulfadox and pyrimeth anti malaria drugs, as part of a US$1.2 million donation for essential drugs.

Vulnerable Groups Benefit From a UNDP Donation in Manicaland

About 125 households from Nyamazura in Mutare District of Manicaland Province, selected from poor small holder farming communities and some vulnerable groups that include HIV/AIDS infected and affected, the elderly, child headed households and widows benefited from a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) donation of US$15,000 to promote production of Open Pollinated Variety (OPV) maize crop.

The money was part of US$80,000 contribution sourced by the UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) flex fund. The UNDP/BCPR flex funding facility is used to support small grants in recovery projects aimed at improving livelihoods and mitigating risk against future shocks at household and community level. Two further projects are being supported in Manicaland Province and funds amount to US$50,000 in total. In addition to these funds directed to Manicaland Province, the UNDP, through the Office of the Humanitarian Co-ordinator provided additional ZW$35 million for Manicaland for various projects that are meant to improve livelihood of the most vulnerable.

A local NGO, Southern Alliance for Indigenous Resources (SAFIRE) was the UNDP implementing partner for the maize and maize seed production project on Open Pollinated Variety. SAFIRE works to facilitate the development and application of innovative approaches to diversify and improve rural livelihoods based on utilisation, commercialisation and sustainable management of natural resources.

The beneficiaries recently held a field day in Nyamazura District on 30th April 2004 to celebrate the success of the OPV seed multiplication project. SAFIRE introduced the project to increase agriculture production for vulnerable groups through provision, promotion, production and multiplication of open pollinated variety crops particularly maize. Prizes were given to farmers who excelled in production and field management of the crop throughout the production period. United Nations Volunteers (UNV section of UNDP) donated prizes worth ZW$3.8 million that were given to farmers who excelled in the OPV seed production project. The prizes included ploughs, wheel burrows, OPV seeds (Zim 451 and 421 varieties), fertilizers and exercise books and readers for grade 1-3 for the participating child headed households. The overall winner was an elderly widow Mrs Mudehwe of Nyamazura district who is expecting a good harvest from a 0.5 hectare flourishing OPV maize crop.

According to SAFIRE field officers, the selected districts had been experiencing increasing vulnerability due to poor water and sanitation (a cholera outbreak was reported in 2000), deforestation and an increase in the number of orphans and child headed households due to HIV and AIDS. SAFIRE trained people, selected from the local community, in agronomy, seed production, business management and record keeping who could spearhead project implementation. These acted as contact farmers to give advice to the beneficiaries.

The vulnerable people received 12.5kg seed maize, a 50kg bag of compound D fertiliser and a 50kg bag of Ammonium Nitrate for 0.5ha of land. Although the beneficiaries started implementing the project late end January 2004, the expected yields are promising to be higher than the other traditional crops. The OPV also requires less fertilisers and labour and is resistant to pests and drought compared to other varieties grown in the area. One of the contact farmers indicated that if the seed is supplied early, it is possible for farmers to plant the maize variety twice within one season so as to realise bumper yields as the OPV is a short season variety.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Humanitarian Coordinator emphasised the importance of collaboration among various actors in relief activities. He indicated that the project in Nyamazura is a good lesson to be replicated in other districts of Manicaland to improve self-sustenance and ensure food security. The beneficiaries indicated that they could do better if they were assisted in establishing irrigation works utilising water from the nearby Osborne dam. A preliminary survey for the irrigation project was done, but the project has been at a stand still due to financial constraints. The beneficiaries plan to have a seed bank that will provide seeds to other districts in Manicaland and the rest of the country at a reasonable price. There are also plans to have storage facilities for seed that will be sold at a reasonable price in order to assist other vulnerable households such as orphans, terminally ill and elderly and the community at large in time of need. There will also be free seed to be distributed to the vulnerable category of the society in times of need.

It has been planned that each farmer will retain 40% of the total proceeds for the harvest, 10 % will be collected by the Commodity Association and be distributed to vulnerable category and the last 50% will be collected by the commodity association for storage in grain seed bank, treated accordingly and sold so that this money can be used as seed money for inputs for the next season. The community also highlighted through a drama that they do not want to continuously receive food handouts and if given necessary support in the form of training and financial resources, they have the capacity to sustain and promote food security in their province.

Zimbabwe Human Development Report 2003 to be Launched

A national launch of the Zimbabwe Human Development Report (ZHDR), 2003 is taking place in Harare on the 6th of May 2004. The report whose theme is 'Redirecting Our Responses to HIV and AIDS: Towards Reducing Vulnerability', has been prepared independently by the Poverty Reduction Forum, a civil society organisation, with support from the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Zimbabwe and UNDP. Different aspects of the theme were researched and reported on by a team of 47 mostly national, experts.

The focus of all Human Development Reports is to put people back at the center of the development process in terms of economic debate, policy and advocacy. The aim is to go beyond income to assess the level of people's long-term well-being. Human Development Reports are produced at global, regional and national levels. The aim of the national report is to place human development at the forefront of the national policy agenda. It is to be used as a tool for policy analysis reflecting people's priorities, strengthening national capacities, engaging national partners, identifying inequities and measuring progress. Key Indicators showing the trend from 1995 to 2001 presented in the report include the Human Development Index (HDI) the Human Poverty Index (HPI) and the gender empowerment measure (GEM) among others. The last Zimbabwe Human Development Report was produced in 2000 and had governance as its central theme.

The key message that is being highlighted in this new report is that the nation needs to carefully review the current national response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. The challenge, it asserts, will be to redirect the national response. The current strategic framework that has guided the national response ends at the end of this year. The existing response in Zimbabwe remains largely medical in thrust. As such it does not address adequately the social issues of poverty and culture, which are the underlying developmental factors driving the spread of HIV. The release of this report now is very timely in that it will greatly inform the development of the new strategic framework which will hopefully be developed during the course of this year.

In addition, the ZHDR will inform discussion at the 3 ½ day national HIV and AIDS conference taking place in June. This conference intends to assist in drawing up cross-sectoral recommendations for improving the national response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic. The conference will provide a national platform for all sectors and all levels of Zimbabwean society to review the HIV and AIDS response effort and draw up lessons for future programming.

This report may also assist in the development of other responses including the UN Response to the triple threat of food insecurity, weakened capacity for governance and AIDS.

The ZHDR will be officially launched by the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, the line Ministry responsible for the poverty reduction mandate and the Poverty Reduction Forum project. The Minister for Health and Child Welfare will also officiate at the launch which will be chaired by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. This illustrates the nature of the new response that is being called for, a response that is a joint effort of the health and development practitioners. As such key stakeholders are being invited from all sectors.

Update on Availability of Food in Urban Areas

Despite adequate availability of most basic food stuffs, purchasing power of the majority poor urban households continues to be eroded by high levels of inflation. Between November 2003 and March 2004, the gap between the minimum wage and value of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) monitored, low income households expenditure basket for a family of six, has increased by about 42 percent. This is from about ZW$600,000 in November 2003 to over ZW$850,000 in March 2004.

The minimum wage rate for industrial workers was able to purchase only 12 percent of the total of the CCZ basket in March (Figure 1 below).

Figure 1 Cost of monthly expenditure basket for a low-income urban household of six in Harare, November 2003-March 2004.

While on the decline, inflation levels in Zimbabwe remain undesirably high. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe believes the retreat in inflation is attributable to their success in bursting the bubble of runaway increases in general prices. The Bank has expressed optimism that its target annual inflation rate of 200 percent by the years end is achievable provided the current monetary policy measures are sustained and are supported by further fiscal measures.

Water Bowsers Distributed to Districts as part of emergency cholera prevention efforts

As part of ECHO support to UNICEF and WHO cholera prevention and emergency response, 500,000 water purification tablets have been purchased and 17 bowsers have been distributed to cholera prone districts this month. The districts that received water bowsers include Buhera 3 (Manicaland Province), Chirumanzu 2 and Gokwe North 3 (Midlands Province), Mt. Darwin 3 (Mashonaland Central Province) and Mudzi 3 (Mashonaland East Province). UNICEF will retain 3 for outbreak response in other areas.

Efforts are also underway as a component of this response, to strengthen existing response mechanisms at the district level to ensure that water borne diseases are detected and contained as quickly as possible to reduce mortality and morbidity. The emergency efforts also seek to establish an epidemic management system within one week, provide emergency cholera supplies to the area affected within 48 hours, support the construction of temporary hygiene enabling facilities including waste disposal (latrines) and ensure that the public are fully informed about how they can prevent the disease.

Pilot Hydrocensus Undertaken to Assist SCF-UK in Water and Sanitation Programming

In an attempt to improve the planning, operational management and impact monitoring of their OFDA funded Emergency Water and Sanitation programme, Save the Children UK (SCF-UK) appointed a consultant to carry out a mapping exercise to compile an inventory of formal water sources across six wards in Zvimba District (Mashonaland West Province). The exercise, which recognises only communally shared water points identified 215 formal sources (30 shallow wells, 64 deep wells and 121 bore holes) across the six wards. Assistance was provided by the local administration including the CEO of Zvimba Rural District Council and his staff, the District Development Fund (DDF) District Water Technicians, ward councillors and co-ordinators.

The consultant's brief included the collection of geographical information (using GPS equipment), data on the number of households and individuals using the water facility, the maximum distance from any household to the facility and a sanitary survey (audit of the water points surrounds). This exercise was conducted in close collaboration with the GIS Section of the UN Relief and Recovery Unit (UN RRU). UN RRU provided technical assistance in terms of training in the use of GPS equipment for the data collectors and plotted water point location information overlain on maps showing the major physical geographical features, primary and secondary school location, rural health centres and growth points. These maps were presented at the broad stakeholder Water and Sanitation Working Group for broader discussion. These maps were very well received and essentially it was decided that this model could provide a framework for future exercises of this kind in this sector.

A final report will provide clear recommendations on how to enhance the impact of the SCF-UK emergency water and sanitation activities. It will also assist in the development of a plan of action for future data collection activities in the remaining SCF-UK project areas.

Pilot teams have also been deployed by World Vision and Oxfam for similar data collection. These teams will follow the same model as SCF-UK and will pass on the information collected to the UN RRU GIS Section for mapping.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator/RRU
Information Reference of Humanitarian Assistance Meetings
May 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

3 May 04
Inter-Agency Coordination Committee for Health
Contact: Shadreck Khupe, UNICEF

4 May 04
HC and Friends Meeting
Contact: Maria Kantamigu, UNDP

5 May 04
Urban Sector Working Group
Contact: Ruth Butao, UN RRU

6 May 04
UN/GoZ/Donors Meeting
Contact: Annika Rosing, UNDP

6 May 04
Nutrition Working Group
Contact: Thokozile Ncube, UNICEF

7 May 04
Education Working Group
Contact: Cecilia Baldeh, UNICEF

20 May 04
Child Protection Working Group
Contact: Ron Pouwels, UNICEF

27 May 04
Agricultural Coordination Meeting
Contact: Morris Mudiwa, FAO

28 May 04
Water and Sanitation Working Group
Contact: Maxwell Jonga, UNICEF

Articles for publication in the next Situation Report should be submitted by 12 May 2004 to our office at the email address: Zimrelief.info@undp.org Contributions from GoZ, NGOs, International Organizations, or private sector groups are welcome.