Aid money almost too tight to mention

hunger_in_zim.jpgAid to Zimbabwe must go beyond food
The international humanitarian community's most important tool for raising resources for action in Zimbabwe, the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP), is out of date and in need of revision. The question is whether appealing for more funds to kee

The CAP 2009 was launched in November 2008, but "the situation in
[Zimbabwe] has obviously moved on," Catherine Bragg, UN Assistant
Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief
Coordinator, told IRIN.

Discussions were underway to ensure the CAP 2009 document better
reflected the current humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, Bragg noted
after leading a UN assessment mission to the country at the end of
February. "The cholera epidemic is still ongoing and the humanitarian
situation has gotten much worse."

By early March cholera had claimed more than 4,000 lives and nearly
90,000 Zimbabweans had been infected since the outbreak began in August
2008.

The food security situation is still deteriorating rapidly: the
original CAP 2009 projected 5.1 million Zimbabweans depending on food
aid in the first quarter of 2009, but that number is now closer to 7
million.

Growing hunger, growing needs

Halfway through 2008, the humanitarian community in Zimbabwe estimated
it would take around US$350 million to address immediate needs in the
country; by November the figure in the CAP had grown to US$550 million.

The new numbers were mainly a reflection of rising food insecurity –
the food component shot up from US$173 million at the beginning of 2008
to US$411 million by the 2008 mid-year review. "A 137 percent
increase," Luke McCallin, the Flash Appeal Coordinator of the
Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) at the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told IRIN.

In January 2009 the sharp increase in the number of emergency food aid
beneficiaries led to a halving of cereal rations, which were already
cut in late 2008 in the face of donor funding shortfalls.

By March 2009 the collapse of Zimbabwe’s health sector and the
unprecedented outbreak of cholera caused the CAP to balloon to well
over US$570 million. Expectations are that the latest revision will
lift the required amount beyond that, but the exact figure remains
unclear.

"It is difficult to tell at this stage. There is an agreement to
conduct inter-agency assessments that will inform the CAP Review," said
Muktar Ali Farah, the Officer in Charge at OCHA in Zimbabwe.

Asking for money is one thing; getting donors to shell out is another.
As of 12 March 2008, commitments to the 2009 CAP covered a mere 18
percent of requirements.

CAPs are notoriously underfunded, particularly early in the year. The
average level of funding for all CAPs worldwide in 2009 so far is at 25
percent. "Zimbabwe is not far off the pace in terms of other African
CAPs, either percentage-wise or in dollar amounts," McCallin said.

Having the money at the right time is often crucial. "One of the
problems we have in general with CAPs is that donor financial years
vary widely, and so their decisions on when and how much to fund do not
always correspond to the needs as we identify them. For example, we
often get increased funding towards the end of the year as donors look
to spend their annual amounts."

‘Lifesaving’ semantics

Competing priorities mean the spread of limited finance across the
various sectors of intervention has reached a critical point. "Zimbabwe
is facing a multisector crisis. Food, health, water supply and
Sanitation, and protection remain the main priorities at the moment,"
Muktar noted.

"The problem in Zimbabwe … is that funding has not been going to
sectors of the emergency which critically need it, such as agriculture
and economic recovery," McCallin said. Sectors usually not perceived as
‘life-saving’ had long been downplayed due to their developmental
nature.

The problem in Zimbabwe … is that funding has not been going to
sectors of the emergency which critically need it, such as agriculture
and economic recovery

The CAP is a strictly ‘humanitarian’ financing tool, and thus
traditionally restricted to short-term emergency needs, but does make
provision for including support to communities requiring emergency
early recovery to strengthen coping mechanisms and sustainable
livelihoods – this is a grey area between humanitarian and development
work.

The CAP 2009 document noted the need to bridge the gap between what is
humanitarian and what is developmental: "Support to development sectors
and activities in Zimbabwe has traditionally been poor.

"Considering that the CAP remains one of the few funding frameworks for
donor engagement in Zimbabwe, and despite the prevailing political
uncertainty, it will require more donor support to essential sectors
that were critically underfunded in 2008."

Getting the message out

The humanitarian community has consistently advocated emergency funding
for agriculture, watsan [water and sanitation], education, and HIV and
AIDS.

"Although they represent underlying causes and require mid- to
long-term approaches, they also fall under emergency needs. For
example, in Zimbabwe an estimated 2,300 persons die per week due to
HIV/AIDS, and on an average only 250 persons die due to cholera,"
Muktar said.

According to Bragg, "there are a number of sectors in particular that
we need to revise. Water and sanitation and health are obvious, in
terms of trying to contain cholera as well as other infectious
diseases. The breakdown of the health sector had not been to such an
extent when we did the consolidated appeal [in November 2008]," she
commented.

"Traditionally we don’t include a lot of agricultural activities in a
humanitarian appeal but in this case we have to look at this as
life-saving, in the sense that if we don’t do it, next year we will
continue to have seven million people requiring direct food aid," Bragg
said.

"We think, and we hope, that we will be in an environment where we can
carry out some of our traditional protection activities … We think
there is now a slight opening for that."

zimbabwe__neighbours.jpgZimbabwe and surrounding countries

Development sectors would include emergency agriculture and education,
health, water and sanitation, assistance to victims of politically
motivated violence, and sustainable return and reconciliation in
affected communities. "Any delay in addressing these needs will only
result in a greater humanitarian caseload," the CAP 2009 document
warned.

According to McCallin, donors have picked up on the need: "Health, in
the specific context of Zimbabwe, has done better this year [2009],
probably because of the attention to the cholera outbreak." The health
requirement was 8 percent funded in 2006, 30 percent in 2007, and 57
percent in 2008, he noted.

"On a related issue, for WASH [water, sanitation and hygiene] – which
is inextricably linked to the health crisis and cholera outbreak – the
funding over the same few years has been 17 percent, 60 percent and 90
percent respectively. There is a trend there, which is probably
improved donor response to a growing crisis."

Full text of the 2009 budget revision by Biti
IMF crafts softer terms to help Africa...

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