Climatic shocks and a deteriorating economic environment in Zimbabwe have left over 7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Drought, often followed by floods and coupled with the economic crisis, has left over 4.3 million people without sufficient food or cropland. According to the July 2020 Rural ZimVAC analysis, more than 56% of rural households are currently facing food insecurity because of the coronavirus pandemic. About 60% of the population are expected to be food insecure from October to December 2020 due to the combined effects of drought, economic recession and the coronavirus.
Over 56% of the rural population in Zimbabwe, who mainly rely on farming, are in urgent need of food assistance. A devastating drought in 2018/2019 led to a massive crop failure. At the same time, erratic and inadequate rainfall in 2020 has exacerbated an already dire situation for the rural population, leaving Zimbabwe as one of the four countries in the world suffering most from food shortages. In March 2019, cyclone Idai hit 4 southern Africa countries, including Zimbabwe, leaving thousands displaced and washing away crops and livelihoods in its wake. To date, there are about 128,000 people still displaced in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces and in need of humanitarian assistance.
On 3 September, Zimbabwe confirmed 6,678 coronavirus cases and 206 deaths, with 85% in the 5 provinces of Harare, Bulawayo, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Manicaland. With an escalating malaria outbreak and over 1.3 million people living with HIV in the country, the coronavirus pandemic poses a big health risk to the population. Access to essential health services has decreased due to insufficient health workers, health workers in isolation/quarantine, insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), and user fees in health facilities.
From 1 April to 31 August, 17,732 Zimbabwean migrants returned from neighbouring countries, with over 989 returnees still being quarantined.
Over 21,000 refugees in Zimbabwe, mostly from Mozambique and a few from the Democratic Republic of Congo, need humanitarian assistance for food, shelter, education and protection.
In 2020, the EU has allocated €14.2 million in humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe, mainly to address the ongoing food shortages in the country. EU funding is helping to provide food assistance to people in need in rural areas, as well as those in highly-vulnerable urban areas, both suffering from the socio-economic effect of combined drought, the economic situation and the coronavirus pandemic. Assistance also aims to support vulnerable migrant returnees.
Part of the EU support goes to education in emergencies and to disaster preparedness. The assistance to disaster preparedness focuses on areas prone to natural hazards. These activities include support to schools, communities and institutions to strengthen their preparedness capacity.
While focusing on immediate relief assistance to the most vulnerable, the EU’s humanitarian aid in Zimbabwe also provides agricultural support to families who rely on subsistence farming but live in drought-affected areas.
EU partners in Zimbabwe are stepping up their efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, adapting their projects to reduce the spread of the virus while still delivering much-needed aid. They have timely included activities on coronavirus prevention and control, information dissemination campaigns, distribution of PPE, promotion of access to water and hygiene, and hygiene awareness sessions to households.
EU assistance puts a particular emphasis on strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable communities to mitigate the impact of the food insecurity and its consequences. To this end, EU humanitarian and development assistance work hand in hand.