UN Allocates $8.1m to Food Insecurity Response in Zimbabwe

Harare, 18 November 2015 – The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has announced the allocation of US$ 8.1 million to Zimbabwe to support life-saving interventions in its Food Insecurity Response Plan launched in October 2015.DCV_3151 (002)_0.jpg

Noting that the allocated emergency funds will be used to support some of the most affected communities that remain uncovered by current responses, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Bishow Parajuli said, “the UN support will focus on responding to urgent needs of the food insecure population with building community resilience as an integral component of the response, especially considering a predicted El Niño, which could mean another poor rainfall season”. 

The CERF allocation includes US$ 4.3million to provide targeted food assistance; US$ 2.1million to ensure affected farmers access to crop inputs and survival stock feed; US$ 1.2 million for the restoration of access to safe water and improvement of hygiene practices and over half a million US dollars for lifesaving nutrition interventions. The allocation is the result of collaborative efforts of FAO, UNICEF, WFP and their partners, led by the UN Resident Coordinator, in prioritizing life-saving interventions identified in the Zimbabwe Food Insecurity Response Plan.

When extreme weather conditions, such as drought, deprive communities of their livelihoods, women and children suffer the most,” said UNICEF Representative, Reza Hossaini. “Water and food become scarce, women and girls are forced to walk long distances in search of water, and children become malnourished and susceptible to diseases. With this funding, we and our partners will do our utmost to alleviate these hardships by providing affected communities with safe water, treatments for children with diarrhea and severe acute malnutrition, and critical lifesaving information for preventing diseases such as cholera and diarrhea.”

The overall food insecurity response plan was developed by the Government, UN, humanitarian and development partners as well as Non-Governmental Organizations following a call for support by Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa, the chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Food and Nutrition Security. The plan seeks US$ 132.2 million, of which US$ 54.1million has been received thus far, leaving a funding gap of US$ 78.1million.

“Ensuring adequate food assistance to the most affected households will not only provide life-saving assistance in the immediate term, but will also prevent longer-term repercussions on households livelihoods, nutritional status, and overall ability to cope with climatic shocks in the future,” emphasized WFP’s Country Director Eddie Rowe.

The funding gap includes: US$ 36.7 million in food assistance; US$ 30 million in agriculture and livelihoods; US$ 4.4 million in nutrition; US$ 5 million in protection and social safety nets; and US$ 1.8 million in water, sanitation and hygiene to assist the most vulnerable populations in the country. The Plan aims to cover the emergency needs of an estimated 1.5 million people in 52 affected districts in Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Matebeleland South and Matebeleland North provinces, with priority given to the hardest-hit districts.

"FAO is working with the government to support livestock farmers access stock feed and crop farmers with quality small grain and legume seeds at affordable prices in drought-affected areas of Zimbabwe. The organization is also responding to the foot and mouth disease outbreak in some parts of the country where 5.4 million doses of vaccines are still required to safeguard the livelihoods of the communities that especially depend on cattle in times of drought”, said FAO Representative to Zimbabwe, David Phiri. 

Zimbabwe may experience a short rainy season with the forecasted El Niño. As a result, the probability of a drought is high and significant food and water insecurity, agriculture and livestock, as well as negative health and nutrition impacts are likely to result.

To mitigate the possible effects and impact of El Niño, the Government Department of Civil Protection together with UN and other partners are developing a mitigation and response plan. The process of developing a full-fledged contingency plan began on 12 November 2015 following a call made by the Cabinet Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management. 

The contingency planning is also in line with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) regional El Niño preparedness measures.

An estimated 924,000 people in Zimbabwe are currently food insecure, according to the 2015 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (supported by Government, UN, donors and NGOs). The figure is expected to increase to 1.5 million people during the peak of the lean season (January to March 2016).

Commending the humanitarian support availed so far, the UN Resident Coordinator appealed to humanitarian and development partners to assist in closing the funding gap of US$ 78.1 million. “Unless we intensify targeted lifesaving activities while simultaneously enhancing our support to building resilience of the vulnerable population, we might end up responding to a bigger challenge in the aftermath of the El Niño impact” cautioned Mr. Parajuli.