‘Zimbabwe still needs aid’
ZIMBABWE will again this year extend its begging bowl to the international donor community for poverty alleviation and development assistance.
As has been the case before, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is expected to play a significant role in responding to Zimbabwe’s social needs.
UNDP’s resident representative, Bishow Parajuli, said they were hopeful that they would enlist the same level of funding as was the case in 2016, if not better.
“In fact, Zimbabwe needs really good help and we are extremely committed to doing our very best in mobilising resources and doing our best in supporting all areas. One of the areas, which we looked at is to do with poverty reduction (and this is) where we think we need to do more and we will be focusing more on that area,” he said.
The UNDP intends to address high levels of poverty by promoting investment and economic reforms.
Sirak Gebrehiwot, a communications specialist at the UN offices in Harare, said while humanitarian assistance will be scaled down, development aid would be critical as the country works to get its economy back on track.
The UN estimates that Zimbabwe consumes an estimated 1,4 metric tonnes of grain annually.
Because of its weakening economy, the good harvest from the 2016/17 agricultural season will not result in reduced demand for donor assistance.
Despite the good rains received during the summer season, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has long warned that the effects of the 2015/2016 El Nino-induced drought would go beyond the current year.
FAO said the drought left the majority of the country’s subsistence farmers incapacitated.
Nearly 70 percent of the country’s 14 million people are subsistence farmers.
On its part, the World Food Programme has launched a five-year strategic plan running between this year and 2021 to achieve zero hunger.
The plan focuses on long-term national social protection, resilience and strengthening systems and institutions.
Zimbabwe has endured more than one and a half decades of political instability and economic decline, making it dependent on external support for both humanitarian and developmental needs.
Between 2015 and 2016, the country experienced one of its worst droughts, which forced it to request for US$326 million-worth of assistance through the UN to help drought-stricken victims.
Since the commencement of the land reform programme in 2000, the country has failed to produce a third of its average national food requirements.
Critical in supporting Zimbabwe’s social needs is the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF).
Running from 2016 to 2020, ZUNDAF is co-chaired by government and the UN.
It is supporting national development efforts in a number of areas aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely social services and protection, poverty reduction and value addition, food and nutrition, gender equality, HIV and Aids and public administration and governance.
Parajuli said ZUNDAF mobilised US$403 million worth of financial support from development partners last year.
Some 150 senior officials from government, the UN, development partners and civil society recently met to validate programme results achieved by ZUNDAF so far.
The food and nutrition security result area was redirected to life-saving assistance, which supported two million people with food aid.
Close to 140 000 vulnerable people were also supported with community asset-building programmes.
ZUNDAF’s support in education has seen increased enrolment of children with disabilities in primary and secondary education by 24 percent (from 40 226 to 49 692).
A National Social Security Strategy was also launched and cash transfers to over 55 000 vulnerable households were sustained.
Over 58 000 household latrines have been constructed and are fully functional.
In the HIV and Aids area, sustained anti-retroviral therapy is being provided to nearly one million people living with the virus, enabling them to lead healthy and productive lives.
“Our prevention efforts through male circumcision, awareness raising and voluntary counselling and testing has stopped the epidemic in its tracks and reversing the trend downwards.
“Now efforts must be geared towards closing the leaking tap on young and adolescent new infections and eliminate 100 percent the transmission of the virus from mother-to-child,” a statement from the UN said.
ZUNDAF also supports gender equality and has provided support to national advocacy, resulting in the outlawing of child marriages and the development of the National Action Plan on Ending Child Marriages to ensure girls stay in school and take charge of their own economic empowerment.
Support has also been provided to strengthen both the capacity of women parliamentarians and women representation in the National Assembly and other governance structures.
In the areas of public administration and good governance, Zimbabwe has accepted 142 recommendations for implementation through a UN facilitated multi-stakeholders’ consultation engagement.
The UN is also supporting the alignment of laws to the Constitution.
Technical support was provided during the formulation of the 2016-2018 Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, the review of the National Labour Migration Policy and the launch of the Diaspora policy to engage Zimbabweans who live abroad in national development.
A multi-donor resilience fund was launched in 2016 and has so far reached over 86 000 households with income generating opportunities (both on and off farm), markets and value chains, services delivery and community-based natural resources management.
The UN says the 2016-2020 ZUNDAF joint efforts will continue to build and strengthen national capacity to achieve the SDGs, and reduce underlying causes of vulnerabilities to external shocks as a result of climate change that has caused recurrent droughts and flooding.
An Inter-Agency Flooding Rapid Assessment report on Tsholotsho district released by the Civil Protection Unit ascertained the scale and scope of flooding in the area and recommended the development of a relocation plan for all flood-prone areas in the district and support for the construction of basic infrastructure.
It called for the development of a recovery livelihood support framework for affected communities. – FinGaz