The Government, UN, NGOs and development partners reinforced their commitment to jointly maximize the impact of drought response efforts and strengthen accountability to the most vulnerable communities worst affected by the drought, during a provincial multi-stakeholder meeting held today in Harare.
The joint commitment came as the Government and humanitarian partners are scaling up their drought response efforts ahead of the coming peak lean season (January to March 2017), when the number of food insecure people in the rural areas of Zimbabwe are expected to increase to over 4 million, according to the findings of the latest 2016/2017 ZimVAC Rural Livelihood Assessment.
The second Drought Response Consultative Meeting was jointly hosted by the Office of the President and Cabinet and the UN System in Zimbabwe. The meeting brought together over 130 senior representatives from the Government at central, provincial and district levels, traditional leaders, development partners, NGOs and UN agencies, who are undertaking drought response efforts in six provinces of Manicaland, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, and Harare Metropolitan.
The meeting provided an opportunity to highlight good practices on provincial and district level drought response coordination, as well as to exchange experiences from existing monitoring and accountability mechanisms on the ground. The meeting also took stock of progress made in the drought response efforts and discussed ways to address operational gaps and challenges in the six provinces and districts.
“Community accountability is key for WFP’s food assistance programmes. We are currently developing a standard operating procedures for the toll-free Hotline system WFP has established, so that it can be replicated by all stakeholders who are implementing drought response programmes,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP Zimbabwe Representative and Country Director.
Highlighting the four humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, which have been guiding the UN agencies’ humanitarian response efforts since the outset of the drought, Cheikh Tidiane Cisse, UN Resident Coordinator a.i., urged:
“Given the universality of the humanitarian principles, I call on all stakeholders and humanitarian actors involved in the drought response to renew our commitment to these principles, continuing with the good partnership and to respond to the drought as one team.”
Informed by the findings of the 2016/2017 ZimVAC Rural Livelihood Assessment, the UN and NGOs revised the Humanitarian Response Plan, which aims to provide life-saving and critical assistance to 3.1 million vulnerable people with the greatest needs. To complement the Government’s efforts, to date the UN and NGOs have reached: over 1.3 million people with food and agricultural assistance; 260,000 people with water supply and hygiene promotion interventions; and, nearly 262,000 children 6-59 months with Vitamin A supplements. Over 15,000 children have been treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM). Over 22,000 children received child protection services and over 1,850 women received services for gender-based violence (GBV).
Of the USD 352 million being sought for the revised Humanitarian Response Plan, nearly USD 209 million have been committed so far. These include generous contributions from USAID, DFID, ECHO, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland and Denmark. BRICS nations and others have also supported the drought response, including direct in-kind contributions from China, India and Brazil.
Thanking the development and humanitarian partners for their cooperation and support to Zimbabwe, Mr. O. E. M. Hove, Senior Principal Director, Office of the President and Cabinet, said: “Zimbabwe greatly appreciates your support. I hope that you will continue to scale up provision of this humanitarian support.”
“Zimbabwe’s international development partners remain committed to support the people of Zimbabwe through our collective drought response. Government of Zimbabwe’s leadership also remains essential, to ensure accountability, and compliance with the international humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence,” said Annabel Gerry, Head of DFID. She continued: “UKAid is pleased to announce an additional GBP 40 million for the drought response, making a total UK contribution to GBP 55.6 million. These include: financing to continue electronic mobile cash payments to 360,000 people most in need up until end of March 2017; the cost of screening of 160,000 children for malnutrition; and the cost of treatment for over 12,000 children.”
In going forward, the meeting committed to strengthen communication and information-sharing between partners at district, provincial and central levels. The participants also agreed to strengthen accountability by collectively working towards harmonization of community feedback mechanisms, learning from best practices from mechanisms in place on the ground.