By Wallace Mawire
The European Union has further increased its support towards the most vulnerable in Zimbabwe by providing an additional EUR 14.2 million (approximately USD 16.63 million) to help support people in need dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, extreme weather conditions – such as persistent drought in the region – and other crises.
Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, said: “The EU is helping to provide life-saving assistance to impoverished households suffering from crop and livestock losses due to drought. The aid package will also strengthen the preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic for countries in the region. In parallel, the EU is helping communities better prepare for natural hazards and reduce their impact.”
The additional support to Zimbabwe is part of a €64.7 million (approximately USD 75.78 million) package that the European Union’s Department for Humanitarian Aid provides for countries in the southern Africa region.
Other countries that benefit are Angola (€3 million), Botswana (€1.95 million), Comoros (€500,000), Eswatini (€2.4 million), Lesotho (€4.8 million), Madagascar (€7.3 million), Malawi (€7.1 million), Mauritius (€250,000), Mozambique (€14.6 million), Namibia (€2 million) and Zambia (€5 million) A further €1.6 million is allocated to regional disaster preparedness actions.
The funding will target food assistance to vulnerable households and helping farmers in the affected areas restore their means of subsistence, coronavirus prevention and preparedness actions to support local health systems and facilitate access to health care, protective equipment, sanitation and hygiene, disaster preparedness projects that also cover new needs brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
They include strengthening early warning systems and evacuation plans for communities at risk of natural hazards, and having emergency stocks of personal protective equipment, support for children’s education and providing training to teaching staff. The humanitarian aid funding announced this week comes on top of the more than €67 million allocated to the region in 2019 by the European Union’s Department for Humanitarian Aid following the impact of the two cyclones, drought, and the economic and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
The southern Africa region has had just one normal rainy season in the last five years, with the last quarter of 2019 being one of the ten driest since 1981 for most areas, causing large-scale livestock losses and damaging harvests. In many places, the current growing season is exceptionally hot and dry, while in several other parts of the region, erratic rains risk undermining harvests in 2020. In some countries, this burden comes on top of already-crippling economic woes. The corona virus pandemic is likely to compound already significant humanitarian needs in the region.