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Cablegate: Un Prepares to Begin Food Monitoring

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000132

SIPDIS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER AND FOR DCHA/OFDA/ARO FOR RILEY,
MYER AND SMITH,
REDSO/ESA/FFP FOR SENYKORR
USAID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA FOR HAJJAR, KHANDAGLE AND MARX,
DCHA/FFP FOR LANDIS, BRAUSE, SKORIC AND PETERSEN,
AFR/SA FOR POE AND COPSON, AFR/SD FOR ISALROW AND WHELAN
PRETORIA FOR FFP DISKIN AND OFDA BRYAN
STATE FOR AF/S DELISI AND RAYNOR
ROME PLEASE PASS TO FODAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAGR ZI
SUBJECT: UN PREPARES TO BEGIN FOOD MONITORING

REF: A. 02 STATE 219741

B. 02 HARARE 2214

1. SUMMARY: Systematic UN monitoring of humanitarian
assistance flows in Zimbabwe appears--finally--to be on the
verge of proceeding. Two of the expatriate staff who will
conduct this effort are on the ground, and plan shortly to
open the first of five offices. Limited monitoring will
begin in February, although it is unclear how successful the
new unit will be in monitoring government-controlled food
deliveries. END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------------
INITIAL NEGOTIATIONS DELAYED START UP
-------------------------------------

2. On January 9, PolOff spoke with George Olesh, head of the
UN Relief and Recovery Unit (RRU) Relief and Information
Verification Office (RIVO) to discuss its status. The RIVO
was created to provide regular, unbiased reports on food aid
distributions by both donors and government. Serious
discussions between the UN and donors began several months
ago, and the EU agreed to partially fund the office, but
final contract resolution was bogged down in EU bureaucracy,
and until the final document was signed with the EU in early
January 2003, the UN RRU only had a verbal agreement. The
rest of the RRU funding came from the U.S. Britain, Sweden,
and Canada. In early November, donors were concerned about
RRU management and its ability to handle an additional
caseload such as the RIVO. In addition to the funding
constraints, the RRU was extremely understaffed with three
people doing the work of seven. (See Reftels).

3. Without a firm commitment from the EU, which the RRU
received verbally in late November/early December, the RRU
could not initiate hiring from the main UN Volunteers office
in Bonn, Germany. RIVO finally received two of the requested
six International UN Volunteers field monitors (UNVs) in
mid-December--a Malawian woman who previously worked in
Myanmar, and a Kenyan man who was in East Timor. To date,
these two new expatriate staff members have been working
exclusively in Harare to get them up to speed on the
situation and also because the unit just received on/about
January 10 the two vehicles it purchased in October.
According to Olesh, the vehicles will be licensed and insured
by the end of next week and Olesh plans to take the UNVs to
Mutare soon thereafter. (NOTE: The vehicles had been stuck
at the Beitbridge border post since early December. END
NOTE.) Olesh told us he will need to ask Bonn for additional
CVs to review for the remaining four slots. RIVO has only
just begun advertising for local hire positions.

--------------
MODUS OPERANDI
--------------

4. The RIVO plans to set up its first field office in Mutare
in Manicaland, near the Mozambique border. Olesh told us
they decided on Mutare because of the extensive cross-border
traffic, the nearby commercial farms and displaced
farmworkers, an increase in cholera and malaria in the area,
and a provincial governor who is more inclined to work with
the UN than her counterparts in other provinces. Olesh
indicated that if Governor Oppah Muchinguri cooperates and
facilitates the acquisition of office space, the collection
of Grain Marketing Board information, and the disclosure of
GOZ food-for-work programs, the RIVO might be able to use the
Manicaland experience as positive leverage in other
provinces. For each office, the RIVO needs to install office
equipment, procure transportation and information technology
(VHF radios, phone and internet connections, satellite
phones, digital cameras), and recruit program and support
staff. The RIVO plans to open offices in Masvingo
(February/March), Bulawayo (January/February), and Chinhoyi
(February/March) and to deploy the UNVs at the provincial
level to work in collaboration at the district level with all
stakeholders in monitoring beneficiary targeting and
assessment, data collection, verification and monitoring of
humanitarian assistance flows.

------------------------------------
MANY OBSTACLES TO SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM
------------------------------------

5. Olesh told us that one of the biggest challenges his
office will face in the field is assuaging the concerns of
government officials that the RRU/RIVO are conducting
subversive activities. To guard against this, the RIVO will
be as open and transparent as possible, providing provincial
governors with exhaustive documents explaining the RIVO's
purpose and activities. Lower level government officials
will receive a one-page tri-fold color pamphlet conveying the
same information. The RRU hopes that a continued dialogue and
field presence will facilitate the release of government
data.

6. According to the UN RRU RIV Section Workplan 2003
distributed to government and donor stakeholders, the RIVO
faces many obstacles to accomplishing its sensitive tasks
given the difficult operating environment within many parts
of rural Zimbabwe. Among these are the scale of the crisis,
polarization, distrust between donors and government,
reluctant collaboration of government with NGOs and donors,
poor transparency of government food policies, personnel
security, lack of international media presence, and
sensationalized local media reporting.

-------
COMMENT
-------

7. It seems the long-awaited "independent" capacity for
monitoring food aid flows in Zimbabwe is finally ready to
proceed. The UN/RRU RIVO represents the best mechanism
available under the circumstances for obtaining objective,
reliable information on this important subject. The
obstacles to successful unit operations are real in the
highly charged and controlled operating environment in
Zimbabwe today. The UN believes it has the mandate to
monitor all food deliveries--including those provided by
government--but the GOZ will not be an enthusiastic partner
in this endeavor. However, with the collective support of
the greater UN and international donor community and close
collaboration with established international and local NGO
networks already engaged in similar monitoring activities, we
are hopeful that the unit will be able to proceed with its
sensitive task. (See septel for government reaction to donor
suggestions for UN monitoring of GMB food deliveries.) END
COMMENT.
SULLIVAN

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