Zimbabwe Situation Report, 26 October 2020


  • As of 25 October, 8,275 COVID-19 cases and 237 deaths were confirmed, with 77 per cent in the four provinces of Bulawayo, Harare, Midlands and Matabeleland South.
  • From 1 April to 20 October, 24,046 Zimbabwean migrants returned from neighbouring countries, with the number of returnees in quarantine significantly decreasing.
  • According to the ZimVAC assessment, 5.5 million people, 56 per cent of the rural population, are estimated to be cereal insecure from January to March 2021.
  • The ZimVAC assessment indicates that the nutrition status of children in Zimbabwe has deteriorated with global acute malnutrition prevalence increasing from 3.6 to 3.8 per cent.

Situation Overview

The United Nations and humanitarian partners revised the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) in July to update the response to the COVID-19 outbreak integrating a multisectoral migrant response and reprioritizing humanitarian cluster responses. The updated COVID-19 Addendum requires US$85 million to respond to the immediate public health crisis and the secondary impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable people, in addition to the $715 million required in the HRP.

The 2020 Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), launched on 2 April 2020, indicates that 7 million people in urban and rural areas are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance across Zimbabwe, compared to 5.5 million in August 2019. Since the launch of the Revised Humanitarian Appeal in August 2019, circumstances for millions of Zimbabweans have worsened. Drought and crop failure, exacerbated by macro-economic challenges and austerity measures, have directly affected vulnerable households in both rural and urban communities. Inflation continues to erode purchasing power and affordability of food and other essential goods is a daily challenge. The delivery of health care, clean water and sanitation, and education has been constrained and millions of people are facing challenges to access vital services.

There are more than 4.3 million people severely food insecure in rural areas in Zimbabwe, according to the latest Intergrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, undertaken in February 2020. In addition, 2.2. million people in urban areas, are “cereal food insecure”, according to the most recent Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) analysis with a new ZimVAC assessment conducted between 10 and 21 July 2020. According to the findings of the 2020 Rural Vulnerability Assessment adopted by the Cabinet, 5.5 million people or 56 per cent of the rural population are estimated to be cereal insecure at the peak of the hunger season, from January to March 2021. The main drivers of the food insecurity situation include COVID-19 and its restrictive measures, drought and heightened economic challenges. In addition, locust damage to crops are expected to compound existing food insecurity in communities. With nutritional needs remaining high with over 1.1 million children and women requiring nutrition assistance for 2020, according to the July 2020 ZimVAC rural assessment, global acute malnutrition (GAM) prevalence has increased from 3.6 per cent to 3.8 per cent. The nutrition status of children in Zimbabwe has shown deterioration with the minimum acceptable diet in young children decreasing to 2.1 per cent from 6.9 per cent recorded in 2019. In addition, numbers of pellagra cases are likely to continue to increase as food insecurity in the country deepens and household income for accessing diversified diets continues to be depleted by the impact of COVID-19 lockdown and economic crisis.

At least 4 million vulnerable Zimbabweans are facing challenges accessing primary health care and drought conditions trigger several health risks. Decreasing availability of safe water, sanitation and hygiene have heightened the risk of communicable disease outbreaks for 3.7 million vulnerable people. Some 1.2 million school-age children are facing challenges accessing education. The drought and economic situation have heightened protection risks, particularly for women and children. Over a year after Cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe in March 2019, 128,270 people remain in need of humanitarian assistance across the 12 affected districts in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces. There are 21,328 refugees and asylum seekers in Zimbabwe who need international protection and multisectoral life-saving assistance to enable them to live in safety and dignity.

As of 25 October 2020, Zimbabwe had a cumulative total of 8,276 confirmed cases, 7,797 recoveries (94 per cent) and 237 deaths. Four provinces (Bulawayo, Harare, Midlands and Matabeleland South) accounted for 77 per cent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Zimbabwe. The weekly decline that started from end of July continued until early October. There was however a 50 per cent increase in reported cases in week of 4-10 October with 125 confirmed cases reported, compared to the previous week with 82 confirmed cases reported, driven by an increase in cases in Harare and Bulawayo. Priorities for the COVID-19 response include: enhanced preparedness of COVID-19 resurgence, with the need for implementation of recommendations from intra-action review with scale-up identified best practices and local innovations, and for updated guidelines on quantification, use and monitoring of essential COVID-19 supplies (lab supplies, PPE, clinical equipment and supplies); essential health services, including the implementation of recommendations from national assessment of essential health services including lessons learned from recently released national programme guidance (HIV/AIDS, TB, Immunization), and the continuation to prioritize Health worker occupational health and safety; and enhanced preparedness for other health emergencies (outbreaks, floods), including the need to update provincial and district emergency preparedness plans, intensified surveillance, pre-positioning of emergency logistics and supplies. A total of 24,046 migrants returned to Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries as of 20 October, with the large majority of returnees arriving through the three points of entry of Beitbridge border post, Plumtree and Harare International airport. The number of reported returnees passed the 20,000 projected arrivals and is expected to continue to increase with the reopening of borders, schools and tourism in the next coming weeks. New Government regulations making the mandatory seven-day quarantine period for returning migrants no longer applicable and requiring travellers to produce valid COVID-19 test certificates on arrival have seen numbers in POE quarantine and isolation facilities drop significantly.

In addition to the commitments to the HRP recorded above through the Financial Tracking System (FTS), a number of funding pledges are in the process of being recorded, including $52.9 from the United Kingdom and $12.7 million from the United States. In addition, the recording of received humanitarian funding by humanitarian partners is being updated in FTS.

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