- OCHA Zimbabwe took a lead in strengthening collaboration between the Government and the humanitarian community, helping ensure that the humanitarian strategy was better aligned with national priorities.
- Coordination of new strategy to combat a massive cholera epidemic, bringing together Health and WASH Clusters.
- The assessment and protection of IDPs were brought in line with internationally recognized standards as a result of continued engagement and advocacy with the Government.
- OCHA Zimbabwe increased information gathering and assessment missions at provincial, district and ward levels, allowing for improvements in advocacy based on evidence from the field, reporting, mapping and early warning.
Zimbabwe faced an array of humanitarian and social problems at the beginning of 2009. It was confronted by a major cholera epidemic, and 6 million Zimbabweans had limited access to safe water and sanitation. However, moves towards a political settlement and signs of economic recovery have had repercussions on the overall humanitarian situation. Zimbabwe benefited in 2009 from improved rains and better preparedness for epidemics. A changing situation has encouraged OCHA and humanitarian partners to focus on partial moves to transition. For example, the CAP launched at the end of 2010 included early recovery and “humanitarian plus” interventions, such as repairs to water and sanitation systems.
There was a serious gap in the operations of humanitarian coordination structures at provincial and district levels. While clusters were fully functioning at the central level (Harare), only one cluster out of eight was operational at the provincial level in 2009. Cluster roll-out was initially seen as contrary to a desired move towards recovery and development. However, once dedicated cluster coordinators took on their proper functions, clusters proved instrumental in bringing clarity and predictability to humanitarian planning and resource mobilization, while providing a coherent response of significant benefit to national and international partners. This was particularly relevant in relation to the cholera epidemic, where better coordination between Health and WASH Clusters proved crucial.
OCHA Zimbabwe oversaw the development of improved humanitarian coordination architecture at country and regional levels. The status of the HCT is still under development. Efforts are underway to adopt clear terms of reference to guide its members on objectives and expected outcomes, and ensure the necessary level of transparency and accountability. Five NGOs are HCT members, though the participation level has often been low.
In 2009, OCHA Zimbabwe facilitated the roll-out of three additional clusters (Protection, Early Recovery and Education), bringing the total to eight. An inter-cluster forum, chaired by OCHA, was also established in 2009.
All clusters are supported by OCHA focal points. OCHA has developed cluster-specific portals on its website to provide easier access to humanitarian information on areas such as health and education. There is an IM shortfall in some clusters. Continuing support from OCHA will be crucial in raising the levels of information sharing, mapping, and analysis of trends and deficiencies.
OCHA Zimbabwe ensured the HCT’s active involvement in allocating CERF grants from the underfunded and rapid response windows, in accordance with humanitarian strategies outlined in the 2009 CAP. The 2010 CAP required $378 million, as opposed to $710 million in 2009. The CAP is strongly aligned with the Government’s priorities, including the Short-Term Economic Recovery Programme.
ERF guidelines were reviewed in June 2009 and realigned to better serve NGOs as the main applicants in the funding process. Clusters can now put more emphasis on reaching out to and building the capacity of local NGOs. For example, in September 2009 WASH sponsored a three-day training on cluster coordination, targeting potential district, provincial and national government representatives from the health and water sectors.
Working towards a greater incorporation of DRR approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response, OCHA continued to provide regular updates, maps and data on humanitarian needs and response in-country. OCHA assisted the HC and HCT in updating the multi-hazard contingency plan in June 2009 and preparing a cholera response plan. OCHA also supported the development of the capacity of the Government’s focal agencies for disaster prevention and preparedness.
OCHA made significant headway in changing the Government’s approach to IDPs, including its official designation as IDPs rather than simply ‘vulnerable’ or ‘mobile’ population groups. Joint assessment missions were carried out by Government and United Nations agencies in August 2009 to get an overview of IDP needs and preferences for durable solutions. OCHA’s advocacy resulted in the Government granting full access to populations in need in 2009.
Gender was included as one of the selection and prioritization criteria for CAP 2009 projects, while cluster monitoring reports are all disaggregated by age and sex. Gender issues featured in the preparation of CAP 2009 and 2010 and in the cluster needs assessments. CERF and ERF projects included gender in the needs analysis, and in project sheet outcomes and activities.