Cablegate: Goz Issues Appeal for Humanitarian Assistance

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




E.O. 12958: N/A

REFS: (A) Harare 01316, (B) Pretoria 03546; (C) Harare

1. The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) has finally issued a
formal request for humanitarian assistance to the United
Nations (UN). The primary request is for additional (not
in the pipeline) food aid in the amount of 600,000 MT of
maize to fill what the GOZ perceives to be the "food
gap," the difference between anticipated national
requirements and the national harvest and carryover
stocks. The amount of food aid the GOZ has requested is
considerably more than that requested in the WFP's
appeal. Additional food-related requirements include
supplementary and therapeutic feeding of malnourished
children. Agricultural-related requests include inputs
for agricultural recovery and livestock rehabilitation,
and irrigation infrastructure and rehabilitation. On the
health side, HIV/AIDS is awarded a high priority. Within
this sector, the GOZ is appealing for assistance for
vaccines; drugs to combat HIV/AIDS and opportunistic
infections, malaria, TB and other diseases; and water and
sanitation. Aside from some minimal support for
livestock recovery and seeds, the only GOZ contribution
to its own appeal would be some 284,000 Metric Tons (MT)
of "opening stocks" and a yet to be fully budgeted amount
of funds to continue its woefully inadequate "Public
Works" (Cash-for-Work) program. In a letter from the
Ministry of Finance, the GOZ requests donors to fill the
entire food gap, in conjunction with commercial imports.
Humanitarian assistance for all other sectors is clearly
expected to come from the international donor community.
We believe the GOZ can and should be responsible for some
of the 600,000 MT of cereal needs, either through using
its own scarce but fungible forex resources, or by
allowing well-heeled elements in the private sector to
participate. Post provides current plans and
recommendations for the USG response to this appeal.


2. On 21 July 2003, the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development presented the UN with the long-awaited formal
GOZ appeal for humanitarian assistance. The World Food
Program (WFP) had already issued an Emergency Operation
appeal (EMOP) for food aid from July 2003 through June
2004 (Reftel B). The UN Consolidated Appeal (CAP) for
emergency humanitarian assistance has been ready for
weeks awaiting a formal GOZ request. In the meantime,
donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have
been attempting to plan based on "unofficial working
estimates" to address what they perceive as a
deteriorating humanitarian situation in country.


3. The GOZ Appeal acknowledges that Zimbabwe is facing a
severe crisis and that macroeconomic "challenges," lack
of foreign exchange, a balance of payments deficit and
high levels of inflation are factors contributing to this
crisis. It continues to maintain, however, that the
government's agrarian land reform program bears no
culpability for the country's continuing economic
collapse and, to the contrary, remains its major strategy
for poverty reduction in Zimbabwe.

4. More than three pages of the 20-page appeal are
devoted to an exegesis of the series of droughts that
Zimbabwe has experienced since 1991. The document places
drought, weather, and ill-timed and unpredictable rains
front and center as the prime cause of Zimbabwe's
troubles. While three years of drought have eroded
traditional coping mechanisms and while drought certainly
played a part in last year's crisis, drought is chronic
in certain regions of Zimbabwe and, alone, has never
brought the country to its knees. It is certainly not
the sole or even primary cause of the situation in which
Zimbabwe finds itself currently, as corroborated by the
significantly improved harvests and food security
conditions in many of the country's neighbors this year.


5. For the first time, the GOZ appeal places HIV/AIDS
center stage. Mitigation of the impact of HIV/AIDS is
given high priority and its invasive and debilitating
effects on all areas and populations in Zimbabwe are
acknowledged. In a country where more than 30 percent of
the sexually active adult population is infected by the
disease, HIV/AIDS compounds the current humanitarian
crisis at every level. HIV/AIDS not only exacerbates
food insecurity and decimates valuable human resources
but is, in turn, complicated and fed by the malnutrition
and opportunistic diseases that are byproducts of food
insecurity. Accordingly, this new prominence for
HIV/AIDS in the national agenda is welcome.


6. The GOZ blames the delay in the release of its appeal
on trying to come up with an accurate maize crop
estimate. In arriving at its estimate, the government
has "creatively" averaged the figures from recent
Government crop forecast assessments, the ZIMVAC and the
FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM)
to arrive at an estimated maize crop of 900,000 MT.
[Note: Although similar large shortages exist for wheat,
there is no mention of wheat balances or requirements
throughout the entire document. End Note.] Against an
estimated national maize requirement of roughly 1.9
million MT, less estimated "opening" stocks of 284,000 MT
(presumably including some combination of outstanding
contracted government imports and on-going purchases of
the domestic crop), the resulting shortfall is 710,000
MT. Correctly noting an estimated 120,000 MT in WFP's
food aid pipeline (Reftel B), the Appeal, therefore,
identifies a 600,000 MT food gap that it requests to be
filled entirely by the international donor community.

7. The only evident GOZ contribution would be the 284,000
MT of planned imports/local purchases noted above that
have yet to materialize, and an as yet not fully budgeted
ZW$ 28 billion to continue its heavily criticized ZW$ 42
billion "Publics Works" (Cash-for-Work) program over the
coming year, with the balance ZW$14 billion being met "by
the donor community and the private sector." [Note:
While the official exchange rate remains ZWD 824:USD 1,
the parallel market rate is now 3,350:1. End Note.]


8. The GOZ Appeal requests assistance in a number of non-
food sectors, too. For agriculture, the appeal requests
support for agricultural recovery to promote "food
sufficiency through increased production in communal,
resettlement and commercial farming areas," pointedly
noting prior donor discrimination in excluding the newly
resettled farmers from international relief assistance to
date. The need for livestock inputs (ZW$ 120 billion),
seeds and fertilizers for cereal and oil crops (ZW$ 758
billion) is highlighted. The GOZ makes a sweeping, but
vague commitment to "fund 50 percent for the cereals,
beef and small stock, and 30 percent of oil seeds, crops
and horticulture." In addition, the appeal includes a
request for an estimated ZW$ 6.65 billion for short-,
medium- and long-term irrigation infrastructure
rehabilitation and development.

9. Additional areas in which assistance is requested are:
-- Malnutrition - Therapeutic and supplementary feeding,
including vitamin supplements, in 31 districts in which
global acute malnutrition exceeds 5 percent and/or severe
acute malnutrition exceeds 2 percent, according to the
recent UNICEF National Nutritional Survey results. No
beneficiary numbers or estimated dollar cost is indicated
for this category of assistance.
-- Health - Support for health facilities and initiatives
in the form of equipment, drugs, vaccines, insecticides
(anti-malarial) and gases that the government cannot
import due to foreign currency constraints. [Note: A
long shopping list is attached to the appeal as an annex,
including drugs for HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and other
diseases.] While estimated caseloads and quantities are
provided, no dollar costs are presented for these
requirements either.
-- Water and Sanitation - Rehabilitation of water
sources, submerged boreholes and sanitary facilities
damaged during recent heavy rains or drought as well as
installation of water services in previously non-serviced
areas, i.e., resettlement areas, in six provinces
(Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland South and North,
Manicaland and Mashonaland Central). Again, while
assistance requirements are specified, no estimated
dollar costs are included for this category of


9. Generally, the GOZ Appeal confirms what we have known
for some time via other recent assessments (see Reftels).
Despite the consensus that this year's maize harvest is
better than last year's, the overall food security
situation in Zimbabwe will not improve significantly over
the current marketing year. Continued economic collapse,
increased scarcity of food commodities and concomitant
higher prices and profiteering will largely negate most
benefits of the increased harvest. In particular, the
situation in urban areas is expected to deteriorate. In
the appeal, the GOZ has at least tacitly acknowledged its
inability to import much, if any, maize in the coming
year. Zimbabwe's private sector has the financial
wherewithal to fill the gap if the GOZ cannot, and the
private sector has the motivation as the Grain Marketing
Board farm gate price for maize has risen dramatically if
belatedly to stimulate production and is approaching the
regional price of maize, calculated at the parallel rate,
which makes private sector involvement economically
feasible. Unless the current policy context is changed,
however, there will be no private sector imports. This
would increasingly leave both urban and rural areas with
food shortages, particularly as the hungry season
(December 2003 - April 2004) progresses.

10. As a result, post suggests that the USG will need to
provide food aid to Zimbabwe at a level comparable to
that of last year, and possibly higher. WFP's new EMOP
includes plans to distribute approximately 450,000 MTs in
Zimbabwe between July 2003 and June 2004, of which about
110,000 MTs will be covered by carryover commodities from
its previous EMOP, leaving "new" donations of 300,000
plus MT. We would expect the USG, through USAID/DCHA's
Office of Food for Peace, to provide between 40 and 50
percent of the net additional WFP requirements. The C-
SAFE program, which is fully funded by USAID, also plans
to distribute an additional 100,000 MTs in rural areas
during this period through targeted free distributions,
food-for-work programs and supplementary feeding.
Further, it is anticipated that C-SAFE's Market
Intervention Pilot Program in Bulawayo will provide
20,000 MTs of sorghum through January 2004. Depending on
the success of this pilot program, tonnage may be
increased if the program continues beyond January 2004
and expands into other urban areas.


11. The USG, through USAID/DCHA's Office for Foreign
Disaster Assistance (OFDA), is concentrating its response
to the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe in the following
-- emergency nutrition interventions through therapeutic
and supplementary feeding programs targeted at children
under five and certain hotspots of persistently high
malnutrition rates;
-- agricultural inputs, particularly seeds and technical
support, for subsistence farming in communal areas to
foster self-sufficiency;
-- drip irrigation projects in areas of chronic drought
and in support of the food security needs of certain
vulnerable populations such as HIV/AIDs-affected
households and orphan- and elderly-headed households;
-- support to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),
especially ex-commercial farm workers;
-- rehabilitation of existing water and sanitation
infrastructures in areas suffering most from the residual
effects of drought;
-- support for monitoring the humanitarian response,
principally through non-governmental agencies, and
including support for periodic U.N.-supported food
security and nutrition surveys and needs assessments; and
-- UN coordination and information dissemination for the
greater humanitarian response through support to its
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To date, approximately US$ 6.2 million of OFDA funds have
been programmed in FY03 in support of UN and NGO
initiatives in these areas, with a similar amount under
consideration for early FY04.


12. While it is essential to provide enough resources to
meet the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable, it is
also important that donors avoid giving the impression
that they are willing to meet the entire food gap in
Zimbabwe, and/or some of the other non-food needs listed
in the appeal document (even for the more credible
requests included therein). This would seriously
undermine our joint on-going efforts to pressure the GOZ
to effect the policy reforms required to facilitate a
more comprehensive and robust humanitarian response and a
speedier transition to recovery (see Reftel C).

13. The Mission believes that the set of USG food and non-
food assistance activities outlined above satisfactorily
meets these critical minimal relief requirements. In
combination with known other donor plans for humanitarian
assistance to Zimbabwe over the current marketing year
(especially the EU and DfID), this assistance should
suffice in meeting this aim, at least through the end of
the current CY (December 2003). Post appreciates DCHA's
continuing support in meeting these significant food and
non-food aid requirements.

14. The GOZ Appeal confirms, at least implicitly,
government's current "bankrupt" status (although we note
that they have found enough forex recently to purchase
new luxury vehicles for senior GOZ officials), and its
purported inability to respond to its citizens'
continuing desperate plight (unlike last year, when
government was able to muster considerable resources of
its own for food imports). For this reason, we believe
that the prospect for GOZ movement on relevant policy
issues is better than it has been in the past. We
believe that UN/donor pressure can best be exerted by
limited donor response to the amount of the WFP appeal,
thereby presenting the GOZ with clear options - use its
own limited forex to import for the GMB, or permit the
private sector to re-enter the grain import sector. The
Mission would like to use the current opportunity to
press the dialogue on GOZ policy reform to the fullest
extent possible (ref C). Accordingly, the Mission does
not wish to "broadcast" these considerable USG assistance
plans at this time. Post will appreciate Washington's
continued cooperation with this request. Sullivan

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