EU to the rescue of Zim’s food crisis

By Byron Mutingwende


The European Union (EU) has extended a huge financial assistance to help Zimbabwe cope with its current food crisis. The bloc did so by allocating another EUR 7.5 million (USD 8.4 million) in response to the deteriorating food insecurity situation in Zimbabwe, bringing its total contribution for drought relief to more than EUR 100 million – and comes just weeks before the peak impact of El Niño is expected to hit the country.


Zimbabwe is one of 21 countries that benefit from a decision by the EU to boost its global response to food insecurity and other socio-economic shocks with an additional EUR 150 million (approx. USD 163.4 million) from the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) to complement the ongoing humanitarian efforts, the EU said in a statement Wednesday.


“The additional USD 8.4 million will be channelled through the multi-donor Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF), managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The additional allocation will mainly contribute to enhancing the resilience capacities of target communities through various livelihood based initiatives, such as support to farming and livestock production, infrastructure projects (such as dams, irrigation schemes, water supply, etc.), the development of Disaster Risk Management Plans and community safety nets,” read the statement


The fund will ensure appropriate, predictable, coordinated and timely responses to shocks (mainly via cash transfers modalities) for communities in crisis.


“When we look at resilience, we need to look at capacities and coping strategies of people and communities, and explore ways to strengthen them so to ensure that all are better able to adjust, react and bounce back when shocks occur. It is about protecting key assets and gains, such as livestock and other farming inputs and tools, and about preventing anyone from falling into wider destitution and poverty”, said Philippe Van Damme, EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe.


The EU Member States, of which twelve are represented in Harare, have since 2015 provided a total of EUR 80.955 million (approx. USD 87.01 million) for relief programmes; in particular by contributions from the United Kingdom/DFID, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and Italy across a number of key sectors such as food assistance, water and sanitation, nutrition and overall support to livelihood systems.


Responses modalities are based on market assessment with a strong emphasis on the use of cash transfer modalities. The EU itself, through its Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), had already contributed EUR 16.15 million (approx. USD 17.19 million) for measures responding to the El Niño-induced drought, such as cash-based responses and emergency livestock initiatives.


The remarkable total contribution of EUR 104.6 million (approximately USD 112.41 million) by the European Union and its 28 Member States is in direct response to the declaration of a state of emergency by the Government of Zimbabwe and the subsequent appeal for humanitarian assistance in February 2016.


It is furthermore proof of the continuing commitment to strengthen Zimbabwe’s coping mechanisms regarding shocks such as the El Niño-induced drought. In addition, it will contribute to the United Nations’ Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP April 2016 – March 2017), which requires a total of USD 352 million. During its peak impact from January to March 2017, it is expected that 4.1 million people in the country will be affected by the crisis, with 3.1 million being targeted by the aid community through various sectors up to March 2017.