The food security situation in Zimbabwe continues to be aggravated by the current El Niño event. The poor performance of the rainfall season has resulted in a significant decrease in the area planted. While grazing conditions have improved slightly due to some rain received in the first week of March, availability across all provinces remains generally inadequate. With the predicted increase in the number of food insecure households and in response to a Declaration of Disaster by the President of Zimbabwe on 3 February 2016, the Government of Zimbabwe launched an International Appeal for assistance to mitigate the impact of the El Niño-induced drought whose total financial requirement is USD 1.5 billion. This development is against a background in which the updated Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report indicated that approximately 2.8 million people would be food insecure.
Even though the El Niño phenomenon is now subsiding, the impacts will continue and even increase in the coming weeks and months. Using the ZimVAC projections and analysis of the estimated crop write offs as well as historical food security trends for the past five years as a baseline, it is estimated that the prevalence of food insecurity in the rural population will fluctuate from 30% in April and 49% (approximately 4.4 million people) during the peak of the lean season from January to March 2017. In line with this increase in food security, significant deterioration is likely to be seen in nutrition, and access to clean water and health facilities.
Since the drought response started in October 2015, close to USD 61 million (50 percent) were received from development partners against a requirement previously identified as USD 132 million for the period October 2015 to March 2016 (USD 59 million for Food Security and Agriculture, USD 1.1 million for WASH, and USD 500,000 for Nutrition).
In scaling up the drought response the UN and NGO partners with support from OCHA developed Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) to map out the immediate needs of the most vulnerable population. Following the HNO, the UN in consultation with humanitarian partners revised the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) to facilitate scaling up the drought response to cover the period April 2016 to March 2017. The focus of this revised HRP, which is in line with Government priorities and timeframe, is on lifesaving and protecting critical livelihoods of 2.8 million people (30% of the total rural population) with a total requirement of USD 360 million. The sectors covered in the HRP are: Food Security and Agriculture (USD 296 m), Health and Nutrition (USD 11 m), Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (USD 26 m), Education (USD 19 m), Protection (USD 8 m) and coordination (USD 0.37 m). The UN and humanitarian partners plan to target those vulnerable people with the greatest needs. They include people living in the hardest hit districts, as well as pockets of vulnerable populations in other areas, including urban areas, and vulnerable groups such as children, women, people living with HIV and migrants. Of the required USD 360 million in the HRP, approximately USD 45 million has been received so far 2016 leaving a finding gap of USD 315 million. With funding received by agencies in most sectors coming to an end in April 2016, additional support is urgently sought to address critical needs.
ER cluster/network initiatives
The ER sector had its first meeting on 21 May 2016 in which the Terms of Reference for the sector were discussed and will be finalised.
With the El Niño weather pattern now ending, it is anticipated that a La Nina pattern will form, thereby creating a possibility of heavy rainfall and flooding during the next season. Projections show that there is a 50 percent chance of La Nina which is also a significant threat to agricultural productivity and food security, and could also trigger another humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe and the region at large. Discussed early recovery activities include linkages with the Department of Meteorology for prioritisation of early warning / early action initiatives.
UNDP Deputy Country Director
United Nations Development Programme
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