Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report Sep 2004

Agricultural Inputs for the 2004/05 Agricultural Season

According to the 2004/05 cropping plan devised by the Government of Zimbabwe, 4 million hectares of maize will be planted. This translates to approximately 100,000 MT of maize seed. Current estimates indicate that approximately 55,000MT of maize seed is available locally. The government has issued a request to local seed companies for 75,000MT of maize seed, 300 MT of Groundnuts, 30,000 MT of Soya Beans and 200 MT of Sorghum. Guidelines for the provision of agricultural inputs for the 2004/05 agricultural season were issued by the government; these include the guidelines on varieties to be distributed, importation procedures and some guidelines on targeting. Tenders for the procurement of agricultural inputs for most NGOs are out and some tenders have already been awarded. Given the new seed importation requirements, most NGOs will only receive seed by the end of October.

The 2003/04 agricultural season was characterized by shortages of agricultural inputs during the first half of the season. The situation improved marginally during the second half of the season. The second half of the 2003/04 season received above normal rainfall which helped the late planted crops to mature. For 2004/05, timing of input distribution by both the Government and the humanitarian community will be critical.

Pre-season Rainfall Forecast Issued

A pre-season forecast issued by the Meteorological Services Department indicates that there are chances of normal to above normal rainfall in Mashonaland West, Central and East, Manicaland, Midlands and Matebeleland North during the first half of the season (October, November, December). The forecast for the first half of the season for Matebeleland North, parts of Masvingo and Midlands indicate a likelihood of normal to below normal rainfall. For the second half of the season chances is that normal to below normal rainfall will be received for the whole country. Therefore, it is critical for the inputs to be distributed early to enable communities to take advantage of the first half of the seaso n which is expected to be wet.

Seed Protocol Developed

There have been numerous reports of poor quality seed being distributed through relief programs. This includes evidence of seed with low germination, mixed genetic purity, or purely adapted varieties.

The picture above shows a field planted with contaminated Macia sorghum seed; the shorter crop is the pure Macia and the taller crop forage Macia. In order to address these challenges, FAO spearheaded the development of a protocol whose main objective is to complement existing government regulations and improve the quality of relief seed being distributed by ensuring the following:

  • Seeds distributed through relief programs are varieties which are registered in Zimbabwe and they conform to the seed certification scheme. In the event that pure seed is not available, NGOs should endeavour to purchase standard grade produced in the country and this should be clearly labelled;
  • All seed supplied to NGOs should contain accurate and traceable information;
  • To facilitate testing and verification of results, samples will be collected by qualified seed inspectors before seeds are collected from the seed companies
  • NGOs will use uniform size packaging to speed up packaging and delivery
  • Every seed pack is to contain information about the variety and cultivation information about variety.

The protocol was developed in consultation with AREX and was endorsed by the main seed houses in Zimbabwe.

Guidelines for emergency relief Activities in Zimbabwe: Seed and Fertilizer Relief

The Agricultural Coordinating Committee (chaired by FAO) developed common guidelines to provide advice to Government and NGOs on how best to assist communities in need of assistance. The guidelines which were drawn from experiences of various stakeholders, primarily considers issues relating to seed and fertilizer delivery in post drought recovery programs in Zimbabwe.

The guidelines provides information on

  • Institutional linkages;
  • Needs assessment and geographical targeting;
  • Indicators to consider when targeting households;
  • Types of inputs to be provided;
  • Distribution strategies which can be employed;
  • Technical support for agricultural recovery;
  • How to integrate recovery efforts with development;
  • Input procurement;
  • Monitoring and Evaluation.

The full document is available on the www.zimrelief.info website.

NGO Bill Presented to Parliament

The NGO bill which has generated a lot of interest and discussions within and outside the humanitarian community was read in Parliament on 6 October 2004. The bill is meant to repeal the Private Voluntary Organisations Act. For some time even before the first reading of the bill, organisations that include civic groups, local and international NGOs as well as the donor community have raised concerns on some provisions of the bill. The main areas of concern as identified by National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO), other NGOs and civic organizations include the following; =B7 Problem with annual registration - instead of annual registration concerned organizations are proposing an indefinite registration to facilitate programming. =B7 Problem with issue of foreign funding for NGOs that deal with governance and human rights issues. Definition of human rights and governance is too broad and may include organizations such as churches. There is a need to be more specific. =B7 Proposed NGO council to have a balance between NGO and Government staff.

Whereas the UN acknowledges the legitimate right of GoZ to legislate on the subject matter, it (UN) has a specific set of concerns and has developed a follow up strategy with the main aim of initiating an informed and constructive dialogue between all relevant stakeholders involved.

One of the developments has been a Public hearing of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare on 7 September 2004. The objective of the public hearing was to collate views on the bill from various interest groups and organizations. The contributions would then be considered by the committee and be part of the committee's report to be tabled in parliament.

The parliamentary legal committee will now scrutinize the bill and give a report making recommendations within twenty -six working days. The UN will be updating all concerned parties within the humanitarian community and facilitate dialogue with government.

Targeting Urban Schools with Emergency Water

The dramatic increase in the cost of water, combined with rationing of water, has left many schools vu lnerable to closure in the city of Harare. UNICEF has come up with a project proposal that aims to provide a more sustainable solution to the water problem in urban schools by either repairing broken boreholes or drilling boreholes. UNICEF, in consultation with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture and the City Council, will identify the most vulnerable urban schools, and then, through sub contractors, drill or repair boreholes. The process of providing boreholes would be complemented with training of the school community on the management and maintenance of the borehole and water conservation. There would also be security measures put in place to ensure that the borehole pumps are not stolen. An initial list of schools in urgent need has been identified and could be expanded depending on available funding.

Families Displaced from Farms

At least 1000 families were evicted by the Police from a number of farms in Mashonaland West province during the first week of September 2004. The Farms involved include the Little England, Inkomo and Darum Farms. During the evictions, families' dwellings were burnt down, and to date many families remain without adequate shelter. A high proportion of the affected families consist of women and children. According to the government the evicted families are illegal settlers who should return to their original homes, and apply for land through formal channels. Families with authentic offer letters for resettlement land seem not to have been affected by the evictions. The government has not yet finalized the identification of any alternative land for the affected families, but was planning to take some families to Tafara Extension, where there is reportedly residential land but no agricultural land.

Access to toilets is a major problem as those that existed are reported to have been destroyed during the eviction. As a result families have resorted to using the bush system. Most of the displaced families have no access to clean water supplies. School going children have also been affected, including, most significantly, those due to write their grade 7 and form 4 final examinations.

A number of evicted families have sought legal assistance and court orders have come as a temporary relief. In separate judgments, the High Court has issued a court order regarding 327 affected families from Inkomo Farm allowing them to return to the farms.

Over the last two weeks, displacements have also bee reported in Matebeleland North, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Manicala nd and Masvingo provinces.

All relevant stakeholders, including IOM, ICRC and the UN system are working closely with the various authorities, seeking permanent solutions to the current problems, including identifying land to resettle those affected. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare has committed itself to assisting all affected families.

Emergency Preparedness and Response Capacity Building for Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Initiated

The World Health Organisation Zimbabwe Country Office has adopted a strategy of building the capacity of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoH&CW) personnel and other partners in emergency preparedness and response (EPR).

The capacity of the MoH&CW in EPR has been compromised over the last few years as the ministry has been experiencing a high attrition rate of trained professionals. The MoH&CW with technical and financial support from the WHO Country Office will be conducting an Emergency Preparedness and Response Training for Foc al Persons in the Health Sector. Participants will be drawn from 8 provinces, Central and Provincial Hospitals and health workers from various institutions/organizations like the Army, NRZ, ZESA, etc. The main objective of this training is to prepare the health sector to plan and respond timeously and efficaciously to disasters and emergencies.

Inputs from Civil Protection Unit and UN RC/HC - Humanitarian Support Team will be incorporated into the training programme to make it more comprehensive. In addition to the above, the WHO Country Office has been supporting the following specialised EPR training programmes:

1. Training in "The Safe Management of Infectious Diseases and Control of Dangerous Pathogens.

2. Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) Training: IDSR was adopted as a regional strategy for early detection and efficacious response to priority communicable diseases for the African Region at the 48th Regional Committee for Africa in September, 1998.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator

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

Articles for publication in the next Situation Report should be submitted by 25th October 2004 to our office at the email address: Zimrelief.info@undp.org