Stakeholders commit to increase support to over 4m drought affected population and preparedness to La Niña

Harare, 7 July 2016 – During a high-level meeting held today, the Government, UN, NGOs, development partners and the private sector reinforced their collective commitment to continue to work together to maximize the impact of El Nino-induced drought response efforts.  The renewed commitment came as the 2016/2017 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) Rural Livelihood Assessment found that the number of food insecure people in Zimbabwe would increase to over 4 million during the next peak lean season (January to March 2017). 

The third Multi-Stakeholder Consultative Meeting was jointly hosted by the Office of the President and Cabinet and the UN System in Zimbabwe, and brought together 200 senior representatives from the Government, diplomatic corps, development partners, NGOs, private sector and the media.  Taking stock of the multi-sectoral humanitarian response undertaken by the Government, UN, NGOs and the private sector - made possible through the generous contributions from development partners – UN Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli, stressed that “the findings of the 2016/2017 ZimVAC and the 43 per cent increase in the number of food insecure people will demand that we scale up our humanitarian response efforts in the coming months.”

Food insecurity levels increased significantly in all 60 districts and in particular in the twenty most food insecure districts.  In the districts with the highest food insecurity levels – Binga and Mudzi – 79 per cent of the population will be food insecure in the period January to March 2017- an increase from 50 per cent and 46 per cent respectively.

The impact of the El Nino-induced drought is being felt not only in rural areas but also in urban areas.  Rtd. Col. Katsande informed of the Government’s intention to conduct an urban livelihood assessment to assess urban and peri-urban food security, and invited the stakeholders to join in the effort to bring in their technical expertise and in-kind and financial support.  This assessment is critical as it will provide a more holistic picture of the population deemed to be food insecure in the whole country.

Since the Humanitarian Response Plan was finalized in April 2016, over USD 100 million have been committed against the USD 360 million sought.  These include contributions from USAID, China, ECHO, DFID, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark.  While appreciating the development partners’ generous support, Parajuli highlighted that, with the increase in affected population and their needs, a significant funding gap remains.  In responding to the drought situation, in addition to Food and Agriculture, it would be critical to also support Health and Nutrition; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Education; and Protection sectors, which are severely under-funded.  “In education sector, for example, we need to invest more for inclusive school feeding, as investment in the children’s future is an investment in Zimbabwe’s future,” urged Parajuli.

The El Nino-induced drought has affected the entire Southern Africa region. According to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), an estimated 41 million people in the region are food insecure, out of whom more than 21 million are in urgent need to assistance.  In response to the worst drought in 35 years, the SADC prepared a regional appeal, which is expected to be launched later this month.

In going forward, the meeting underscored the need for: continued collective increase in support to the drought response; joint support to the urban vulnerability assessment; strengthening the monitoring system in programme implementation; and, planning and preparation for possible effects of La Nina and strengthening of early warning systems.

In response to Rtd. Col. Katsande’s call to maximize multi-stakeholder collaborative efforts for the drought response and beyond, Parajuli reiterated: “The UN System is committed to continue to work with the Government and the development and humanitarian partners to further scale-up humanitarian, resilience-building and development activities to reach those who are the most vulnerable.  Also in view of the economic challenges the country is facing, I appeal for increased international support.”