Despite an improvement in the food security situation in most parts of rural Zimbabwe this year following an above-average 2020/2021 harvest, the prevailing economic situation, exacerbated by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated containment measures, continued to impact on families’ access to food and essential services in the third quarter of 2021. In September, there were an estimated 5.7 million people with insufficient food consumption in Zimbabwe, according to the World Food Programme, and a growing number of people in deficit-producing rural areas were experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes after they depleted their self-produced food stocks and began to rely on markets, according to FEWSNET. Meanwhile, families in urban and peri-urban areas were impacted by dwindling livelihood opportunities and increasing commodity prices, as reported by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.
From January to August 2021, nearly 5,600 cases were reported through the National Gender-Based Violence Hotline, representing a 65 per cent increase compared to pre-COVID-19 lockdowns trends. Over 6,460 cases of sexual violence were reported to health facilities between January and July 2021, at least 20 per cent more than the numbers reported in the same period of 2020, according to the Government’s Health Management Information System (HMIS). Children also continued to face protection risks, and about 23 per cent of school-age children in Zimbabwe were reported to be out of school due to financial constraints, teenage pregnancy and being considered too young for school, according to the 2021 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report.
Approximately 2.3 million people in Zimbabwe received life-saving and life-sustaining assistance in the first nine months of 2021, under the Humanitarian Response Plan. At least 777,000 people received food assistance, either in-kind or through cash-transfers, and over 6,500 acutely-malnourished children were admitted for treatment. In addition, 128,000 parents or caregivers for children aged 6 to 23 months were reached with critical training and counseling on infant and young child feeding practices to prevent malnutrition. About 1.5 million people were supported with access to safe drinking water and hygiene services. Around 44,000 women were reached with gender-based violence (GBV) risk mitigation campaigns, while 8,000 survivors of GBV accessed multisectoral services such as clinical care, psychosocial support, and legal assistance. Around 811,000 children were provided with information on COVID-19, while 73,000 were reached with psychosocial support services.
However, the acute lack of funding has continued to prevent humanitarian organizations in Zimbabwe from providing critical services to more people who need assistance. At the end of September 2021, humanitarian organizations had received just over 13 per cent of the US$507 million required to assist over 4.5 million people. Most sectors, including nutrition, health, water, hygiene and sanitation, protection have received little to no funding. Some vital assistance—including emergency water, health and nutrition services—was only possible as organizations managed to utilize internal resources or repurposed development funding to fill critical gaps in the humanitarian response. Organizations providing services for survivors of gender-based violence or child protection services have been forced to reduce activities due to funding shortages, amidst increasing cases throughout the year.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA’s activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.