Despite signs of growing stability in Zimbabwe, the humanitarian situation remained fragile. The failure to address the root causes of a decade-long socio-economic decline left over half of the population with limited access to health and safe water-and-sanitation facilities. Some 1.6 million people required food assistance and the percentage of malnourished children under age 5 rose to 35 per cent. Thousands of deportees, mixed migrants, refugees, IDPs and orphans also received humanitarian assistance.
In 2011, OCHA ensured an orderly response to Zimbabwe’s humanitarian challenges. It provided coordination support to over 70 INGOs, 1,200 NGOs, 11 UN agencies, several Government line ministries and various diplomatic missions. OCHA successfully led the implementation of a new programme-based approach for the CAP, which develops entire cluster programmes instead of agency-specific projects. The advantage of this approach is implementing CAP programmes that point to recovery, while addressing immediate and emerging humanitarian needs. The flexibility enabled an alignment with the Government’s priorities and facilitated an adequate response to the country’s changing needs. Donors hailed the approach as useful for strategic planning, and for outcome monitoring against set programme objectives and activities.
Adapting to the Government’s stance on expanding OCHA’s district-level presence, OCHA continued to coordinate humanitarian activities by prioritizing regular field visits. Most were conducted with Government officials and other humanitarian partners. They helped OCHA support the roll-out of two sub-clusters dealing with early recovery and protection to Matebeleland region. The missions also enabled OCHA to expand its partnership network, including all stakeholders, with benefits for quick information-sharing as a basis for further assessments or relevant humanitarian action to be taken.
In 2011, OCHA began supporting coordination structures that provide a clear link between humanitarian, recovery and development activities. To support recovery and transition, OCHA used workshops, meetings, advocacy messages and information products to consistently encourage the de-linking of humanitarian and development assistance from political issues, while also making the case for humanitarian as well as recovery interventions. To this end, the HCT adopted a Common Humanitarian Action Plan that provides a clear link between humanitarian and development assistance. However, this process remained slow due to low levels of development funding.
Throughout the year, disaster preparedness remained a key priority. The Department of Civil Protection, the Government structure that deals with disaster preparedness and response, remained incapacitated due to resource constraints. It relied heavily on OCHA to help disseminate information on early warning systems, and coordinate and respond to small- and medium-scale disasters. OCHA achieved this by updating joint contingency plans, supporting disaster preparedness and response workshops, and mobilizing resources as and when required.
OCHA’s plans will partly depend on important political developments expected in 2012 and their humanitarian consequences. It will work with the authorities and relevant actors to develop a comprehensive disaster preparedness and response strategy. OCHA will continue to improve coordination and dialogue between humanitarian and development actors as part of the move towards a strategy focusing on recovery rather than simply humanitarian response.
Asylum seekers from other countries whose claims have not yet been established but who are in need of temporary humanitarian assistance