Cablegate: Fy10 Renewal of Disaster Declaration in Zimbabwe For


DE RUEHSB #0822/01 2880820
R 150820Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 2008 HARARE 904

THIS IS AN ACTION CABLE. See paras 3 and 9 below.


1. Recent public opinion polling reveals that many Zimbabweans feel
more positive about the future than they have during recent years.
They credit the transitional government and, more specifically,
Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC for the economic improvements they
have seen. But while the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe has
improved compared to a year ago, millions of Zimbabweans continue to
live a precarious existence. They are threatened by the possibility
of renewed state sponsored political violence, the risk of another
cholera epidemic, and tenuous food security. Farm invasions during
the past eight months have displaced two thousand workers, according
to the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe
(GAPWUZ). The government's thin revenues cannot support basic needs
for health care, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, and other
necessities. All this means that the current complex humanitarian
crisis will be with Zimbabwe during the next year.

3. This cable requests renewal of the disaster declaration for this
complex emergency for FY10. Continued humanitarian assistance from
USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) will be
required in FY10 to meet critical humanitarian needs of both urban
and rural populations. In FY09, USAID/OFDA provided more than USD
30 million in humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe. END SUMMARY.

Humanitarian Crisis Background

3. Conditions for many Zimbabweans have improved in FY 2009 thanks
in large part to the decision to scrap the Zimbabwe dollar. Foreign
currencies now circulate instead, making day-to-day survival less
difficult for many Zimbabweans than it was a year ago. The swearing
in of a transitional government in February has also enhanced
economic, social, and political stability. A recent nationwide
public opinion poll conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute
reveals a marked improvement in attitudes toward economic prospects
for the future compared to just one year ago. Such gains, and the
continued existence of the transitional government itself, however,
are tenuous. Even with these improvements, a large number of
Zimbabweans face food insecurity and await free distribution of
inputs for agriculture because they are too poor to buy food and
farming inputs.

4. They also face the threat of renewed state-sponsored organized
violence and torture as the country prepares for the rollout of a
constitution making process, a referendum on a constitution, and
national and local elections -- all possibly within the next 18
months. More than a year after the June 2008 elections, thousands
of Zimbabweans who were victims of state-sponsored violence were
still seeking medical, legal, and other humanitarian assistance.
More than 8,000 persons were treated by one medical service provider
alone, the USAID-funded Counseling Services Unit, during the past
year. Many in the human rights and pro-democracy communities fear
that the uneasy calm prevailing over most of the country could
explode in renewed violence during the coming year, creating new
waves of injured and displaced populations.

5. GAPWUZ estimates that at least 2,000 people have been displaced
by farm invasions since February. This number could grow
significantly over the coming year. Cholera took the lives of more
Qsignificantly over the coming year. Cholera took the lives of more
than 4,000 persons last year and although programming responses by
USAID, the UN and other donors have reduced the possibility of an
outbreak of this magnitude, cholera has reemerged. At the October
combined Health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Cluster
meeting on cholera, the Ministry of Health and the World Health
Organization (WHO) reported 7 confirmed cases out of 33 suspected
cases of cholera since September.

6. A FEWSNET special report dated September 30 states that, thanks
to the liberalization of markets and the collapse of the Grain
Marketing Board, private traders are able to import food and other
items and sell them at stable market prices. The 80 percent of
rural households and 60 percent of urban households who get about 80
percent of their annual food requirements from their own production
have benefitted from good harvests, increasing their access to food
compared to the same time last year. FEWSNET also notes that
"Zimbabwe's still depressed economy continues to limit employment

opportunities, and even for those who are employed, low wages
constrict their purchasing power for food and other basic
commodities and services."

7. The FEWSNET special report concludes that "the new macroeconomic
environment in Zimbabwe has not only resulted in greater
availability of cheaper food, but has also created a problem of
accessibility for the poor households. Supplies of both food and
non-foodstuff in urban areas remain favorable with improved
availability since January and this is expected to continue through
December 2009, given the extended imports Zimbabwe
moves into the hunger period (October to February), the proportion
of food insecure households will be significant despite the good
harvest and economic recovery." A joint WFP/FAO crop assessment
estimated that 2.8 million Zimbabweans will be in need of monthly
food rations during the 2009/2010 lean season, but the actual
requirement may be less. The actual outcome will depend on the
political situation, the evolving economy and market conditions.

USG Humanitarian Assistance in FY09

8. The USG provided a total of $201,452,250 in humanitarian
assistance to Zimbabwe in FY 2009. This included $30.9 million from
OFDA, of which $7.3m was for emergency relief supplies and WASH
activities of nine partners in areas affected by cholera; the
remaining $23.6m from OFDA went to fourteen partners for agriculture
and food security inputs, WASH, risk reduction and humanitarian
coordination, emergency relief supplies, information management, and
protection. $166.6 million from FFP went to two partners in
emergency food assistance and $3.9 million from State/PRM to three
partners for refugee/migrant assistance and humanitarian support.

Renewal of Disaster Declaration for FY10

9. Improvement on the political and economic fronts
notwithstanding, it is clear that the complex humanitarian crisis
continues. Post is particularly concerned about: the continued farm
invasions and the growing number of displaced farm workers; the
potential for a new round of state-sponsored organized violence and
torture, as the country moves towards a constitutional referendum
and elections; and the resurgence of cholera. Zimbabwe continues to
have emergent needs in all humanitarian sectors including food
insecurity, sustainable livelihoods, WASH, protection, and access to
adequate healthcare. Therefore, Post hereby requests renewal of
the disaster declaration for FY09 (Ref). Post will continue to work
closely with the regional offices of USAID/FFP and USAID/OFDA to
monitor the situation and determine what types of additional
humanitarian assistance may be required to save lives, alleviate
suffering, and reduce the economic impact of this complex disaster.


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