Stakeholders to strengthen drought response monitoring, call for more funding

Bulawayo, 29 September 2016 -The Office of the President and Cabinet and the United Nations System in Zimbabwe jointly convened today some 150 partners representing Government at central, provincial and district levels, traditional leaders, development partners and NGOs in Bulawayo.

The meeting appraised the ongoing drought response in four provinces of Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Bulawayo. The meeting also allowed participants to share good practices in the drought response to strengthen monitoring and accountability to reach the most vulnerable, and to identify preparedness priorities for the impending La Nina response. This first provincial consultative meeting is part of a resolution agreed-to at the regular national level multi-stakeholders’ drought response consultative meeting held on 7 July 2016 in Harare.

Addressing the firstprovincial consultative drought response meeting, Mr Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said, “The Government, humanitarian partners and local administrators have jointly agreed to strengthen the existing monitoring and accountability mechanisms through adopting standard operating procedures to strengthen our response and accountability to the most vulnerable communities worst affected by the drought.” “We need to keep our radars active and prepare a contingency plan for any eventuality that may arise from the effects of La Nina.”

Results from the latest Rural Livelihoods Assessment report released by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee in July 2016 show that approximately 4.1 million rural Zimbabweans will be food insecure during the peak hunger period of January to March 2017. Recognizing the negative effect of the drought amongst the urban population, Urban assessment is currently being undertaken to determine the number of food insecure people.The results of the urban assessment are expected to increase the total population affected.

Thanking the UN, development partners and other humanitarian actors for their active engagement in the drought response, Senior Principal Director at the Office of the President and Cabinet Ozias Hove who was standing in for Deputy Chief Secretary Rtd. Col. Christian Katsande, said, “Government has put in place structures to ensure well-coordinated drought response including through facilitating food importation; food distribution to vulnerable groups; and provide emergency water supply; micronutrient feeding of the under-five and school feeding; emergency irrigation and rehabilitation; livestock and wildlife support.”

According to updates from the four provinces:

  • InMatabeleland North of the 413,000 people affected all are receiving assistance.
  • Of the 340,725affected populations in Matabeleland South, over 225,000 people are being supported with relief assistance.
  • In Midlands out of the estimated 630,000 food insecure people over 350,000 are receiving assistance.
  • Over 14,000 drought affected people have been receiving assistance since July 2016 in Bulawayo, while awaiting the final findings of the ongoing urban assessment.

Participants called for the ongoing school feeding programme to cover all school-going children and POTRAZ to increase connectivity to ensure smooth running of the cash transfer programmes.

Since the onset of the drought in 2015, the Government, UN, NGOs and other humanitarian actors have been providing life-saving relief assistancein cash and in kind.

Stephanie Funk, USAID Mission Director welcomed the agreements made by all stakeholders and said "We support the UN principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality.  We consider these principles necessary to making sure that our assistance is delivered in an accountable and transparent way, regardless of political affiliation, religion or gender." She emphasized that "the El Niño induced drought is bigger than all of us, we must continue to work together to make our efforts as effective as possible."

Of the $352 million being sought for the Humanitarian Response Plan, nearly $192 million have been committed so far.  This funding includes generous donations from USAID, DFID, China, Netherlands, EU, Japan, Sweden, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, India, Switzerland and the UN Central Emergency Fund.

Appreciating the strong financial and in kind support from donors and humanitarian partners, UN Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli said, “There is still a funding gap of $160 million including in food and agriculture and other sectors such as water, sanitation and hygiene; health and nutrition; and protection”, the UN Resident Coordinator Bishow Parajuli said.

Expressing gratitude for the generous support from USAID and many other partners, Eddie Rowe, WFP Representative said, “There is an urgent need for additional $111 million for the Food Security sub-sector to address the needs of the 1.9 million most food-insecure people through to the end of the lean season, in March 2017.”

Humanitarian response has so far reached approximately 1.5 million most vulnerable people. There is an urgent need to fund the non-food sectors to ensure that the positive impact that has been achieved in food assistance is not affected by the inadequate funding in the other sectors. United Nations managed humanitarian assistance is guided by the principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality where any and all who are in need are targeted for humanitarian assistance irrespective of their political and other affiliation. The UN has put in place rigorous monitoring, accountability and complaints mechanisms.

The ongoing humanitarian response is linked to recovery, resilience building and medium term development. The UN System together with development partners is supporting national efforts through the 2016-2020 Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF).