UN, Partners assist 1m drought affected Zimbabweans

Harare, 4 March 2016 - The UN System is deeply concerned by the severe drought caused by El Niño across the country and in southern Africa that is negatively impacting the lives and livelihoods of millions people in rural Zimbabwe and the region.

Informed by the 2015 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report, a UN Response Plan was prepared and, to date, the UN agencies - with support from development partners and in cooperation with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) - have reached more than 1 million affected people and generated USD 76 million in funding from partners, including US/USAID, UK/DFID, EU/ECHO and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. Following the Government’s declaration of a State of Disaster on 3 February 2016 and the updated ZimVAC report of recent weeks, the UN and its humanitarian partners have been further refining the joint humanitarian response plan so as to address needs in the following areas: agriculture; food; health; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); nutrition; child protection; and education.

Guided by the updated joint humanitarian response plan, which will soon be finalized, the UN agencies are committed to continue to work with the Government and development partners to scale-up relief activities to reach those who are food insecure. These are currently estimated 2.8 million people. In reaching the affected populations, coordination of humanitarian efforts undertaken by the Government and the international humanitarian community will be critical so as to optimize resources and avoid duplication and/or gaps.

It would be important from the outset of the humanitarian relief efforts to mainstream the elements of early recovery and resilience building, and to ensure linkages with ongoing development efforts in the drought-affected areas.

The UN System’s humanitarian response in Zimbabwe, as elsewhere in the world, is guided by the four humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. The UN works closely with the Government and its designated institutions to provide humanitarian assistance to those vulnerable people with the greatest needs, regardless of their political or other affiliations and beliefs, with full transparency and accountability.

The UN agencies and their humanitarian partners undertaking the emergency drought response have been adhering to these humanitarian principles and have put in place mechanisms to ensure that these principles are respected. Regardless of whether humanitarian assistance is delivered directly or through implementing partners, all humanitarian agencies employ a robust monitoring system that ensures that aid is distributed only to the intended beneficiaries.

The operations of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), for example, are identified through national multi-stakeholder food security assessments carried out in coordination with the Government of Zimbabwe, local authorities and other stakeholders, including through the ZimVAC, to determine the areas and the number of people in need of assistance. WFP implements its programmes through both local and international NGOs in coordination with district-level government and non-government stakeholders. WFP has put in place standard operating procedures that clearly define the targeting mechanisms and a mandatory compliance system to ensure that only those who have been registered as WFP beneficiaries receive food and cash-based assistance. Special mechanisms are also used to identify beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries at WFP registration and food/cash distribution sites. These allow people to provide feedback and raise any concerns about WFP programmes, either anonymously or in person with someone from WFP or a partner organisation.

The drought response of the other sectors - water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), agriculture and nutrition - has similarly been informed by the ZimVAC.

The UN System in Zimbabwe has been – and will continue to be – a partner of the Government in supporting the most vulnerable people in the country. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe in responding to the needs of the drought-affected population, and we strongly appeal to our development partners for their continued support and cooperation in reaching the most-affected communities.