|Written by NEVER CHANDA|
|Monday, 30 November 2009 06:38|
| HARARE –The United Nations has halved the humanitarian appeal for Zimbabwe in 2010 from the US$718 million sought this year but cautioned against continued “structural problems” faced by the southern African country still recovering from a decade of political strife and economic meltdown.|
(Pictured: School children take home food received from a relief agency)
Zimbabwe's appeal is half as large in dollar terms as in 2009 when the UN asked for US$718 million “because a generally good harvest has reduced the number of severely food-insecure Zimbabweans”.
According to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), early recovery (ER) support would be a key priority for the 2010 Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for Zimbabwe as aid agencies seek to consolidate recent humanitarian achievements and to ensure that results are maintained.
“Direct restoration of basic social services, infrastructure and livelihood opportunities will not be able to get off the ground without support for the CAP’s ER strategy,” the UN arm said.
The UN agency said priority would be given to rehabilitation of water facilities in urban and rural areas where an estimated six million people have no access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Attention would also shift towards provision of livelihood support to vulnerable groups – including female and child-headed households, people with disabilities, internally displaced persons and people living with HIV/AIDS – to reduce their dependency on humanitarian assistance.
“Without transitional recovery activities in place, populations risk becoming increasingly dependent on emergency aid, losing self-reliance and the capacity to manage their own development in the future,” the UN agency said yesterday during the launch of the humanitarian appeal.
It said more than 1.9 million people in Zimbabwe are likely to remain food-insecure in 2010 while about 650 000 communal farmers would require agricultural inputs.
Without these inputs, there will be little chance of reducing reliance on outside food assistance.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a gradual shift from humanitarian crisis to recovery following political changes that positively affected socio-economic conditions.
Following the economic downturn and political polarization that culminated in the protracted elections of 2008, an Inclusive Government was formed in February 2009.
This development led to greater cooperation between the international humanitarian community and the Zimbabwean authorities, improvement in the country’s socio-economic and humanitarian situation, and improved humanitarian access to vulnerable populations.
The world body warned that while the improvement of general conditions in Zimbabwe has improved following the formation of the coalition government in February, the donor community was still approaching the country’s humanitarian situation with “cautious optimism”.
“It should not distract from Zimbabwe’s structural problems,” the agency cautioned.
An estimated six million vulnerable people would continue to feel the impact of the erosion of basic services and livelihoods over the past years.
Cholera re-emerged in October, raising fears of the resurgence of last year’s outbreak that affected 55 out of the country’s 62 districts, with 98 531 cases and 4 282 deaths recorded.
Despite improvements in food security, the country still faces a substantial national cereal deficit and an estimated 1.9 million people will need food assistance at the peak of the 2010 hunger season from January to March.
The country has the fourth-highest crude mortality rate in Africa.
Child malnutrition is a significant challenge to child survival and development.
More than a third of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished while seven percent suffer from acute malnutrition.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is one of the highest in the world, despite a recent drop to 13.7 percent.
Some 1.2 million people live with the virus and 343 600 adults plus 35 200 children under age 15 urgently need anti-retroviral treatment.
The education sector is characterised by severe shortages of essential supplies, high staff turnover and sporadic teachers’ strikes.
This particularly affects Zimbabwe’s 1.6 million orphaned and vulnerable children, including more than 100 000 child-headed households.
“The need to support ‘humanitarian plus’ or early recovery programmes is highlighted by the deterioration in existing infrastructure and loss of employment opportunities,” OCHA said.