Community Development Health

IOM assesses socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on returnees in Zimbabwe

Focus Group Discussion Gutu District © IOM 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the strict measures to halt its spread and mitigate its impact forced many migrants to return to their home countries. Over 30 000 Zimbabweans have returned to Zimbabwe since the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020. IOM in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), is conducting community-based surveys to assess the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on returnees, their households and host communities.

The survey assesses the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on returnees, highlighting their vulnerabilities, needs, and intentions. The exercise combines one on one interviews as well as focus group discussions. These activities are funded by German Humanitarian Assistance.

The assessment is ongoing and has so far covered Harare, Chegutu, Kadoma, Gokwe South, Bulawayo, Beitbridge, Zvishavane, Shurugwi, Masvingo, Chipinge and Chimanimani, with over 500 returnees reached so far. The comprehensive needs analysis will provide IOM and the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare with guidance on a framework for sustainable reintegration of returnees by assisting to rebuild their livelihoods beyond COVID-19.

In the short term, IOM has targeted 2 319 migrant returnees to provide cash transfers, funded through German Humanitarian Assistance. These cash based interventions (CBIs) will cushion returnees from immediate shocks and prevent them falling further into the crisis. They will also ease pressure on the host community while longer term interventions are finalised.

IOM Zimbabwe Chief of Mission Mario Lito Malanca believes that CBIs are particularly effective in assisting mobile populations in humanitarian emergencies and protracted crises. “We are committed to ensuring that long term interventions that support migrants are reinforced by immediate responses like CBIs that give migrants the ability to prioritise their needs according to their unique circumstances,” Mr. Malanca said. He emphasised that IOM will continue to work with the Government of Zimbabwe and partners, to ensure orderly, safe, and regular migration.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende