By Staff Reporter
AN estimated 7.9 million Zimbabweans, including 4.1 million children, will be in urgent need of life-saving health services and humanitarian assistance in 2021 due to multiple hazards, including the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and the economic crisis.
More than 38,000 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) need treatment; 2.7 million people require safe water and sanitation; 4.6 million children need formal and non-formal education; and 2.2 million people in urban areas require social protection.
In 2021, UNICEF will scale up its support to government-led national and district coordination structures to enable the provision of multi-sectoral life-saving services and efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.
UNICEF requires US$74.7 million to meet humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe in 2021, including US$18.9 million for emergency social cash transfers and US$16 million for the health response.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
While Zimbabwe is expected to receive normal to above normal rainfall in the 2020–2021 rainfall season, with La Niña in the forecast, the country is at risk of flash flooding and outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases, including cholera.
An estimated 7.9 million people, including 4.1 million children, will urgently require humanitarian assistance in 2021, due to food insecurity, health crises, the impacts of Covid-19 and economic deterioration.
Nearly 5.5 million people in rural areas are food insecure, and acute malnutrition has increased from 3.6 per cent in 2019 to 4.5 per cent in 2020. Covid-19 has reduced income opportunities and food sources for more than half of the population, and nearly one quarter of Zimbabweans are unable to access basic commodities.
With hyperinflation at 874 per cent as of July 2020 food prices are soaring, the currency is weakened and the population’s purchasing power has declined. Due to the deepening economic crisis, 2.2 million people in urban areas who were food insecure in 2020 will likely remain so in 2021.
As of 20 September 2020, Zimbabwe reported nearly 7,700 cases of Covid-19; over 200 deaths and over 5,900 recoveries. Some 7.9 million people will need life-saving health services, 38,000 children with SAM will need treatment, and 140,000 people will need HIV and AIDS services.
The impact of Covid-19 and the economic crisis will further weaken the country’s public health system, risking widespread strikes by health care workers demanding improved working conditions.
Some 2 million people will need safe water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene; as schools reopen, 4.6 million children will need emergency formal and non-formal education; and 2.2 million people in urban areas will need social protection.
Gender-based violence and violence against children are also on the rise. Between April and August 2020, over 4,400 cases were reported, up 35% for the same period last year.
Overall, 2.2 million children will need child protection services, including psycho-social support and services addressing gender-based violence, violence against children and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. 24