Zimbabwe + 4 more

Zimbabwe Situation Report, 21 August 2020



  • As of 20 August, 5,745 COVID-19 cases and 151 deaths were confirmed, with 80 per cent in the four provinces of Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands and Matabeleland South.

  • From 1 April to 19 August, 15,776 Zimbabwean migrants returned from neighbouring countries, with over 1,457 returnees being quarantined.

  • WFP projects that food insecure people will rise to 3.3 million from 2.2 million in urban areas, and to 5.3 million from 3.7 million in rural areas from October to December 2020.

  • Dams that supply Bulawayo City are at just 25.6 per cent capacity with a deficit of 17 million litres of water per day for the city’s residents.


Situation Overview

The United Nations and humanitarian partners revised the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) in July to update the response to the COVID-19 outbreak integrating a multisectoral migrant response and reprioritizing humanitarian cluster responses. The updated COVID-19 Addendum requires US$85 million to respond to the immediate public health crisis and the secondary impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable people, in addition to the $715 million required in the HRP.

The 2020 Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), launched on 2 April 2020, indicates that 7 million people in urban and rural areas are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance across Zimbabwe, compared to 5.5 million in August 2019. Since the launch of the Revised Humanitarian Appeal in August 2019, circumstances for millions of Zimbabweans have worsened. Drought and crop failure, exacerbated by macro-economic challenges and austerity measures, have directly affected vulnerable households in both rural and urban communities. Inflation continues to erode purchasing power and affordability of food and other essential goods is a daily challenge. The delivery of health care, clean water and sanitation, and education has been constrained and millions of people are facing challenges to access vital services.

There are more than 4.3 million people severely food insecure in rural areas in Zimbabwe, according to the latest Intergrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, undertaken in February 2020. In addition, 2.2. million people in urban areas, are “cereal food insecure”, according to the most recent Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) analysis with a new ZimVAC assessment conducted between 10 and 21 July 2020. WFP projections indicate that the number of food insecure Zimbabweans is likely to increase by almost 50 per cent by the end of 2020. About 8.6 million people, including 5.3 million people in rural areas and 3.3 million people in urban areas, or 60 per cent of the population is expected be food insecure due to the combined effects of drought, economic recession and the COVID-19 pandemic. Nutritional needs remain high with over 1.1 million children and women requiring nutrition assistance. Child malnutrition, including acute malnutrition or wasting, is also expected to increase due to steep declines in household incomes, changes in the availability and affordability of nutritious foods, and interruptions to health, nutrition, and social protection services.
The impact of COVID-19 is likely to result in at least an additional 15,000 children been wasted, in addition to the 100,000 children expected to be wasted this year.

At least 4 million vulnerable Zimbabweans are facing challenges accessing primary health care and drought conditions trigger several health risks. Decreasing availability of safe water, sanitation and hygiene have heightened the risk of communicable disease outbreaks for 3.7 million vulnerable people. Some 1.2 million school-age children are facing challenges accessing education. The drought and economic situation have heightened protection risks, particularly for women and children. Over a year after Cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe in March 2019, 128,270 people remain in need of humanitarian assistance across the 12 affected districts in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces. There are 21,328 refugees and asylum seekers in Zimbabwe who need international protection and multisectoral life-saving assistance to enable them to live in safety and dignity.

As of 20 August 2020, Zimbabwe had confirmed 5,745 confirmed COVID-19 cases (vs 4,339 on 5 August; 926 on 9 July; and 287 on 10 June), including 151 deaths (vs 84 deaths on 5 August; 12 deaths on 9 July and four deaths on 10 June) since the onset of the outbreak. The four provinces of Harare, Bulawayo, Midlands and Matabeleland South account for 80 per cent of cases in Zimbabwe, with 75 per cent of all confirmed cases being local cases. Harare has the highest number of cases per capita followed by Bulawayo and Matabeleland South, and the highest number of deaths per capita followed by Bulawayo.

In order to strengthen the National COVID-19 response, the Government Cabinet decided on 18 August that a Technical Steering Committee with experts from all the sectors involved in the response will be constituted, and that the COVID-19 response is to be merged into a single response plan comprising the Command Centre, Office of the COVID-19 Chief Coordinator and Ministry of Health and Child Care. In addition to previously announced lockdown regulations, the postponement of the planned reopening of schools on 28 July and extra measures on 21 July, the Government Cabinet directed on 18 August that: business hours which were ending at 3 p.m. be revisited to end at 4:30 p.m. and the curfew to start at 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m; public transport drivers have to undergo regular COVID-19 PCR tests; and public transport buses will be allowed a dedicated lane at roadblocks to expedite their passage. A total of 15,776 migrants have returned to Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries as of 19 August, with the large majority or 90 per cent of returnees arriving through the three points of entry of Beitbridge border post, Plumtree and Harare International airport. The number continues to increase daily, with a projection of 20,000 new arrivals in the next coming months with inclusion of those from northern countries, such as Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Further, 1,457 returnees were quarantined in government operated centres on 18 August, with the large majority or 80 per cent of returnees quarantined in the five provinces of Harare, Matabeleland South, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Mashonaland West.

On 5 August, the UN Secretary-General urged the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure the protection of all fundamental human rights, notably the freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, in accordance with Zimbabwe's human rights obligations.

In addition to the commitments to the HRP recorded above through the Financial Tracking System (FTS), a number of pledges are in the process of being finalized, including $30 million for the HRP and $14 million for the COVID-19 response from the United Kingdom, $18 million from the United States, $14 million from the European Commission, and $200,000 from Canada. In addition, carryover funding of agencies from 2019 will be reflected in FTS.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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