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Monthly Humanitarian update
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
January 31, 2010

http://ochaonline.un.org/humanitarianappeal/webpage.asp?Page=1755

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Situation Overview

Zimbabwe's humanitarian situation continues to ride on the gains made in late 2009, as reflected by a stark decline in humanitarian needs. The reduced funding requirement for the 2010 Consolidated Appeal (CAP) of US$378 million bears testimony to this. However, the situation remains fragile and could succumb to any sudden shocks, which calls for cautious optimism.

Threats of a strike by civil servants, continued disease outbreaks and scanty rain marked by long dry spells that threaten prospects of a good harvest, indicate that the worst is not yet over and could reverse the gains made so far.

While providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities, it is imperative to remain cognisant of the impending transition to early recovery. It is vital to maintain balance and flexibility in supporting both the humanitarian and the recovery elements of assistance. The uncertainty of the situation means the pendulum could either swing into a humanitarian emergency or full scale recovery. While only time will tell, whichever way the pendulum swings, preparation is essential.

To this end, the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) and humanitarian stakeholders are engaged in ensuring that adequate preparations for any eventuality are in place. Activities include assessments and planning exercises that will inform future decision making in line with the changing situation.

Both parties have also refined disaster response mechanisms. The national Civil Protection Committee (CPC) met in January 2010 to clarify future responses to disasters and agreed that in the event of an emergency, the GoZ and the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) will coordinate the strategic response with the collaboration of all humanitarian actors from the Government, UN and NGO community, and the private sector if possible. Coordination of all disaster response should be done through the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) on the Government side, whereas OCHA should take the lead on behalf of the HC in coordinating the UN and I/NGOs. Other sectoral arrangements should fit within this set-up and structures. OCHA and the DCP would therefore jointly lead coordination efforts at national level while the District Administrators (DA) as chairs of the district CPU would lead the response at local level.

In addition, the United Nations Country Team
(UNCT) late this month held a retreat on coordination mechanisms.

The preparatory work, however, should be supported by sound financial backing using mechanisms such as the 2010 CAP. This is ideal as it includes early recovery and "humanitarian plus" interventions which, although of a recovery nature, are considered timecritical and life-saving in the context of Zimbabwe.

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