HomeOpinionAid appeal exposes humanitarian crisis

Aid appeal exposes humanitarian crisis

Augustine Mukaro

ZIMBABWE’S 2006 consolidated appeal for aid has exposed the failure of government policies to improve people’s lives or attract foreign investment, forcing the nation to seek assistance in virtually all sectors.


massive US$277 million is being sought to fund food imports, agriculture, shelter, health and other basic needs. Of this sum, food accounts for the largest single item at US$111 million despite the country receiving above-average rainfall this season.

Agriculture, which was the mainstay of the economy until the launch of government’s chaotic land reform programme six years ago, requires US$44 million, the second largest sum on the appeal. 

Shelter, which has never been an issue in Zimbabwe’s previous appeals, requires US$20 million, courtesy of government’s disastrous Operation Murambatsvina. 

Sweden, Norway, Ireland and the Netherlands have already responded to the appeal either through direct contribution or pledges, with Sweden availing US$5 million.
The allocation will be channelled through the International Organisation for Migration and the United Nations’ arms of Humanitarian Assistance and Children’s Fund Unicef. 

The appeal, drafted by the United Nations and its implementing partners in conjunction with government, shows that state policies have worsened the humanitarian situation characterised by high unemployment, sharp economic decline and fuel shortages.

“The humanitarian situation was further compounded by government’s Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order which targeted what government considered to be illegal structures and informal businesses,” reads the appeal.

“The operation further exposed the underlying challenges involved with rapid, unplanned urbanisation and the subsequent acute housing problems.

The operation led to rapid growth in the number of displaced and homeless people, combined with loss of livelihoods for those that previously worked in the informal sector.”

Government estimates that 133 000 households were destroyed during the operation but UN secretary-general Kofi Annan’s special envoy for Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe, Anna Tibaijuka, said 700 000 people were directly affected through the loss of shelter and livelihoods.

“Of those who lost their homes many continue living in the open, while others stay in the ruins of their former houses or drift from location to location. Some have found alternative rental housing in urban areas, while others have returned to rural areas,” the appeal says.

In response government built only 5 000 housing units under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle programme, leaving the donor community to seek over US$20 million for shelter for displaced people.

The appeal further exposes government’s failures in agriculture and food security policies. Food and agriculture account for US$154 million in the appeal in a year when government has forecasting a bumper harvest.

“Government acknowledged that more than 2,9 million people will be in need of food relief in 2005/6,” the appeal says. The appeal confirms that the country faces a maize deficit of more than 1,3 million tonnes this year.

“In the 2005/6 season at least three million people will require food assistance, as the country harvests an estimated 600 000 tonnes of maize compared to its requirement of 1,8 million tonnes,” the appeal says.

“The humanitarian situation is likely to continue to deteriorate in 2006, particularly due to the steady decline of the economy, which will have an adverse effect for already vulnerable populations,” it said.

“Among the expected developments in 2006 are decreases in the quality and access to basic services, deepening of urban poverty, continued difficulty of people previously employed in the informal sector to re-establish their livelihoods, continued emigration, new farm evictions and deepening overall vulnerability to natural disasters.”

The appeal says the enactment of the Constitutional Amendment No 17 nationalising all land, created uncertainty which
made investors hesitant to venture into agriculture.

“In September 2005, parliament ratified the Constitutional Amendment Number 17, which nationalised all commercial farms and ousted powers of the courts to entertain any claims by owners of nationalised land,” the appeal says.
“This has further marred the interest of foreign investors in the Zimbabwean economy.”

Analysts said the uncertainty in the agricultural sector had affected both commercial farmers and the new farmers since they don’t have security of tenure on the land they are occupying.

The appeal says the priority humanitarian action would be to save lives, enhance positive coping mechanisms, mitigate the impact on vulnerable populations and ensure comprehensive and coordinated humanitarian response.

The appeal aims to provide: food assistance to an estimated 3 million people; agricultural and livelihoods support to 1,4 million households; improve access and quality of education services for 93 000 children; temporary shelter to 23 000 displaced and homeless households; immunise 5,2 million children against preventable communicable diseases and ensure nutrition and disease surveillance; support home-based care for 55 000 persons living with HIV/Aids, health care, including essential drugs and anti-retroviral drugs to 3,6 million people; assist 600 000 women and children in mother and child health care programmes, target 1,6 million community members in the health monitoring and surveillance;
conscientise 4,5 million people about HIV; sensitise 1,5 million people on the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence; provide multi-sectoral assistance to the 300 000 mobile and vulnerable populations;
assist 96 000 returning deportees; offer assistance and psychosocial support to over 500 000 orphans and vulnerable children, and to deliver improved the water and sanitation services for 2,4 million people.

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