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Zimbabwe: CERF allocates US$10M to provide critical food and livelihood support as food insecurity rises

28 Feb 2019


During a three-day mission to Zimbabwe, including a meeting this morning with His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa, UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock announced the allocation of US$10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help reach over 5.3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance following drought and economic shocks.

“The CERF allocation will help us to rapidly provide critical food and livelihood support, education, health, and protection services for the most vulnerable people who are hardest-hit during crises, including children, women, the elderly, and people who are chronically ill or living with disabilities,” said Mr. Lowcock. “But the $10 million represents only a fraction of what is needed to meet the level of need across the country.”

The announcement was made during the launch of the Zimbabwe Flash Appeal today. Mr. Lowcock, UN Resident Coordinator Bishow Parajuli, and senior Government representatives launched the Appeal which requires $234 million to provide urgent food, health, water, sanitation, hygiene and protection support for 2.2 million people of the 5.3 million people in need over the next six months.


"The situation here has always been hard, but now it became worse", Etina told Mr. Lowcock as she was holding her baby. "We are struggling to survive and persevere. The money my husband makes selling bananas is simply not enough".

The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating, with the economic crisis compounding the impacts of erratic rainfall. Severe food insecurity has escalated during the 2018/2019 lean season (October – April), while access to basic services, and particularly healthcare, has become increasingly challenging due to the economic situation.

Nearly 5.3 million people in Zimbabwe are estimated to be in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection during the 2018/2019 lean season (October – April) and beyond. This includes nearly 3.8 million people in rural areas, including 2.9 million who are severely food insecure and a further 900,000 people who are currently receiving humanitarian assistance, without which they would be in IPC phase 3 or above. In addition, 1.5 million people in urban areas, including major towns and secondary cities, are estimated to be facing severe food insecurity, while people in multiple locations across the country are faced with acute shortages of essential medicines. Rising food insecurity has heightened the risk of gender-based violence, particularly for women and girls.

My dream is that my grandchildren could go to school and make their own life:, Emiria told the ERC. "But we just can't afford it."

While in Zimbabwe, ERC Lowcok visited the densely populated Harare suburb Epworth, where he met with families who are struggling to cope. “I heard from people living with HIV who are unable to take the critical drugs they need. They can’t take it on an empty stomach and many of them can only afford one meal a day,” he said. Mr. Lowcock saw first-hand how quickly UN agencies and NGOs have acted to adapt and scale up vital services, including food assistance, child protection and healthcare programmes in response to the rapidly evolving situation in Zimbabwe. He commended the essential role of NGOs in collaborating with the UN in helping the most vulnerable people.

"Thanks to humanitarian aid, my family can afford one full meal a day", Joyce told us. "The rest of the day we have to eat boiled peanuts to survive".

During his meetings with senior government officials, including the President, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance, Mr. Lowcock echoed recent calls by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and urged the Government to find ways of engaging with people about legitimate grievances - including through national dialogue on the economic challenges the country is facing - and to investigate all reports of violence in a prompt, thorough and transparent manner. Mr. Lowcock stressed that the root causes of the growing humanitarian needs must be addressed.

“I have had extremely constructive and cordial discussions with the Government. I was pleased to be able to reinforce to them the UN’s total solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, and to thank the Government for the excellent collaboration the UN enjoys here,” said Mr. Lowcock.

From Zimbabwe, Mr. Lowcock will visit Malawi 1-2 March to see first-hand the humanitarian situation there and the efforts undertaken by aid organizations to respond.

Photos: OCHA/Saviano Abreu