Presentation of the 2020 Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan

more than ever before, we need solidarity, hope and the political will to see this crisis through together

Honourable Minister of Local Government and Public Works,

Ambassadors, Heads of Development Cooperation, and

Members of the Diplomatic Community,

UN Heads of Agencies,

Humanitarian Partners,

Members of the Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Honourable Minister for the opportunity to address you today and indeed for the audience with His Excellency the President yesterday at which this Humanitarian Response Plan was launched.

The Humanitarian Response Plan has been launched a year after since the Cyclone Idai disaster, and the lingering drought, economic challenge and now the COVID-19 pandemic creating a perfect storm.

As the UN Secretary General said in his recent Global Solidarity Report, “more than ever before, we need solidarity, hope and the political will to see this crisis through together.”

The launching of this Plan builds on the humanitarian support delivered by the international community since January 2019 and is a further demonstration of the solidarity of the international community to support the most vulnerable in Zimbabwe by tackling nationwide humanitarian need.

Developed in collaboration with Government Ministries, this Humanitarian Response Plan will endeavour to tackle multi-sectoral lifesaving and life-sustaining need during 2020. The estimated cost is $715 million.

As we are all aware, this Plan is taking place against a very challenging time in which the Government of Zimbabwe, together with partners are also working to respond to the novel COVID-19 outbreak. This makes our combined effort in assisting the people of Zimbabwe even more important and challenging.

As the pandemic continues to spread and to claim the lives of many thousands there is heightened urgency to come to the assistance of the most vulnerable members of society. In Africa 41 countries had reported a total of 3,664 confirmed cases and 86 deaths as of 31 March and Zimbabwe has not been spared. The Humanitarian Response Plan launched yesterday will I believe play a key role in mitigating the impact of this COVID pandemic more especially as those most in need face increased exposure to this insidious pandemic.

Being on alert since 22 January 2020, there are ongoing efforts in Zimbabwe to contain the spread of the virus with screening ongoing in the Ports of Entry. More than 16,000 passengers from COVID-19 affected countries were screened, as of 30 March. To date, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) in Zimbabwe reported 9 confirmed COVID-19 cases including one death, as well as 233 suspected cases of COVID-19 which tested negative.

Following the declaration of COVID-19 as a national disaster by His Excellency the President on 19 March 2020, efforts have been scaled up to further contain the spread. The UN is currently in the process of developing a plan to complement government’s efforts to address the pandemic in line with the recently launched Zimbabwe National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19.

This Humanitarian Response Plan will continue to deliver the support necessary to Zimbabweans who have endured multiple shocks impacting the lives of many in both rural and urban communities. Indeed, indications suggest that another poor harvest in 2020 is forecast leaving the most vulnerable people especially in rural areas in need of assistance.

In urban areas, many people are struggling to cope and having to forego essential items to put food on the table. Those hardest hit have been forced to resort to negative coping mechanisms, with particularly dangerous consequences for women and girls who are simply striving to survive. All of this without factoring in the yet unknown impact of the COVID pandemic.

The recent Rapid Lean Season ZIMVAC briefing presented by the Honourable Minister and IPC report re-emphasizes the need for continued food assistance support. Recognizing the difficult circumstances, a Government Domestic and International Appeal for multi-sectoral assistance has been developed.

This Humanitarian Response Plan responds therefore, in part, to address the increasing vulnerabilities of an estimated seven million people who need multi-sectoral humanitarian support. Food insecurity remains the major concern with over 4.3 million people – or 46% of the rural population – requiring continued assistance.

Urban vulnerability has also been on the increase due to the economic circumstance, leaving some 2.2 million people food insecure according to the latest urban Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) Assessment. Even when there is availability of basic commodities affordability is a real issue for many.

I want to emphasise that in support of Government efforts this Humanitarian Response Plan prioritizes lifesaving and life-sustaining support targeting the people most in need, including residual humanitarian needs of Cyclone Idai-affected communities and on-going support to refugees.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts made by the Government in addressing the humanitarian challenges faced in country – from the Cyclone Idai response to the current food insecurity and now the COVID-19 situation and to recognise that Government is having to do this while addressing the macro-economic challenges.

Let me also take this opportunity to acknowledge the generous support and the great show of solidarity shown by the humanitarian partners.  Under the previous 2019 Humanitarian Appeal, the partners contributed over USD 240 million to address priority humanitarian needs.

Close to 2 million women, men and children with critical and life-saving interventions have been reached by partners in support of the Government-led response. Nearly 1.8 million people received food assistance support, complementing the Government’s distribution of food to 3.8 million people.

An estimated 1.3 million people were provided with clean water and safe sanitation; 600,000 people have benefited from essential health services; and over 16,000 boys and girls were covered by child protection services. And let’s also remember the challenges that stress brings in terms of protection issues, particularly the protection of women, young girls and children against gender-based violence and exploitation.

Of course, these results would not have been possible without the hard work of those tasked to deliver humanitarian assistance be through Government, national and international NGOs, Churches and UN Agencies. 

This Humanitarian Response Plan targets the multi-sectoral humanitarian needs of 5.6 million vulnerable people, out of the 7 million people whom we have identified as in need of humanitarian assistance. It complements the efforts of the government in responding to the needs of the vulnerability of the communities.

As I said the total requirement to address the humanitarian need is USD 715 million and I recognise that this is a big ask from the international donor community who have been extraordinarily generous in coming to the aid of the most vulnerable.

I would like to also note that given that the COVID-19 pandemic was evolving as we were finalising the Humanitarian Response Plan, we have made an indicative provision in line with the National Response Plan on COVID19. The provision recognizes the strain that COVID-19 has put to the ongoing humanitarian response as food distribution has to be reorganised to cope with new guidelines of protection and the challenge of migration where a number of Zimbabweans travel across the region such as South Africa.

We are cognizant that humanitarian assistance is not a long-term solution to the socio-economic challenges in Zimbabwe.  Intensive effort is required to tackle the root causes of the increasing humanitarian needs and the UN is committed to continue to support the Government to undertake the necessary reform efforts.  Support is being also provided through the current ZUNDAF and next five-year Zimbabwe UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework of which preparations are currently underway.

I would like to highlight as the UN Secretary General has in his report as well on the need for continued focus on important economic reforms which will allow the country to be able to sustainably respond to the situation and recover better.

I would like to conclude by reiterating the continued commitment of the UN System in Zimbabwe to work with the Government and the development and humanitarian partners to support the most vulnerable people with humanitarian, resilience-building and development assistance. 

We reiterate the commitment of the UN to support Zimbabwe achieve its vision and overcome the shock and the impact of COVID19 here and across the world.

I finish my address by thanking the diplomatic community, donors and cooperating partners for your support and commitment to the UN not only here but also globally including to the recently launched appeal by the UN Secretary General, OCHA and WHO.

We, indeed, look forward to continued engagement and discussion with you on how best to respond to the current humanitarian needs and assist Zimbabwe to recover in a better way.

I thank you.

Speech by
Maria Ribeiro
Resident Coordinator
 Maria Ribeiro
UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Atomic Energy Agency
International Fund for Agricultural Development
International Organization for Migration
International Trade Centre
International Telecommunications Union
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
United Nations
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Department of Safety and Security
United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
United Nations Office for Project Services
United Nations Volunteers
Universal Postal Union
World Food Programme
World Health Organization
Other entities involved in this initiative
International Monetary Fund
World Bank
World Bank