Govt, UN ink US$429,3m drought flash appeal Local Government and Public Works Minister Daniel Garwe (centre) and United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Zimbabwe, Edward Kallon (left), shake hands after signing a joint appeal for food aid in Harare while Civil Protection Unit acting director, Mr Farai Okonya (right), looks on.

Joseph Madzimure-Senior Reporter

THE United Nations has signed a US$429,3 million drought flash appeal with the Government for humanitarian partners to assist more than three million people who are food insecure due to the El Nino-induced drought.

 Speaking during the signing ceremony with the Minister of Local Government and Public Works Daniel Garwe in Harare yesterday, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Zimbabwe, Mr Edward Kallon, said the appeal is meant to mobilise humanitarian action to complement the Government’s own relief efforts.

“To respond to this situation, this flash appeal requires US$429,3 million for humanitarian partners to assist close to 3,1 million people. 

“All efforts have been made to ensure that this appeal is prioritised and principled, and we are confident that the activities planned are the most urgently needed to deliver immediate relief to the people who need it the most.” 

In implementing this appeal, Mr Kallon said Government, the UN and partners were committed to ensuring that the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence and humanity were fully respected.

“In issuing this appeal, we are conscious that humanitarian assistance is not a long-term solution to the recurrent climatic shocks, that continue to increase in frequency and intensity in Zimbabwe and across the Southern Africa region. With the global climate crisis impacting Zimbabwe, intensive efforts are required to ensure that people across the country can withstand the growing climatic shocks, as well as to tackle inequality and poverty, as highlighted in the country’s National Resilience Strategy,” said Mr Kallon.

The UN and its partners have committed to support the Government to build resilience and implement development initiatives that can withstand climate change.

“While longer-term efforts to address these extremely complex challenges are vital, we are faced today with an urgent need to act swiftly to save the lives and livelihoods of those whose crops and livestock have been upended by the El Nino drought. We therefore call on the international community to show solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe at this extremely challenging time and to stand with us as we step-up our response to this devastating event.

“We appeal for the international community’s continued generous support to ensure that communities severely impacted by El Niño can cope and recover from it and engage in transformative change,” he said.

Minister Garwe, who is the chairperson of the Cabinet Committee on Environment, Disaster Prevention and Management, said Zimbabwe, like any other country in the SADC region, is grappling with the impact of the El Nino-induced drought.

He said the appeal provides all sector requirements that Government and partners ought to prioritise.

In response to the El Nino drought, Government has prioritised intervention strategies such as the school feeding programme; assistance for the labour-constrained households; food and cash for assets; Zunde raMambo/Isiphala seNkosi, irrigation development, including promotion of resilient agriculture infrastructure among others

“The humanitarian appeal focuses on immediate needs, recovery and resilience building of the affected populace. In this stride, there is a moral obligation and an urgency for the international community to lend a hand for life-saving support to those most in need. We are thankful to the development and humanitarian partners for the generous support to date. Overall, estimated requirements for interventions by all sectors of the economy is staggered at US$3,3 billion,” said Minister Garwe. 

Due to the El-Niño-induced drought in Zimbabwe, an estimated 9 million people will be food insecure and require assistance until March 2025.

Since December 2023, long dry spells and high temperatures, coupled with poor rainfall performance, negatively impacted crop and livestock production.

Estimates for the 2023/2024 cropping season indicate that about 700 000 tonnes of maize, out of an annual requirement of 2.2 million tonnes, have been harvested.

More than 1,4 million cattle risk facing starving due to lack of food, pasture and water.

The El Niño-induced drought has negatively affected local production, with estimates of a 52 percent shortfall. According to the Crop, Livestock and Fisheries Assessment Report (CLAFA 1) released by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture Fisheries and Rural Development, Zimbabwe’s crop production was negatively affected, with 40 percent of the maize crop classified as “poor”, and 60 percent as “a write off”.

As cattle herds converge in search of forage and water, livestock diseases have increased, says the Ministry of Agriculture, adding that the  livestock sector risks being seriously affected in the coming winter season, between June and October, due to poor pasture quality and lack of drinking water.

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