Zimbabwe needs $800m to address humanitarian crisis-UN

The United Nations office in Zimbabwe says the country needs $800 million to address the current humanitarian crisis. This week, UN Zimbabwe appealed for $85 million for response efforts to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and the impact it  is having on society.

In April, the country office asked for $715 million in humanitarian and financial aid.

Apart from a nearly collapsed economy, Zimbabwe has a food insecurity challenge and a severely crippled health system.

The $85 million funding would be distributed to UN agencies and NGOs who will provide water supply, risk interventions and infection and control and prevention programmes.

The country experiences severe water shortages, even in major cities and the healthcare system is crippled. This would assist in support government’s limited capacity.

UN Zimbabwe President and Coordinator, Maria Rebeiro, says it is important to remember that the COVID-19 appeal is part of the broader appeal.

A big blow to Zimbabwe’s campaign for fund-raising is that it’s currently not eligible for financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The country does not have any debt owing to the financial body, but needs to meet other requirement before becoming eligible for assistance.

IMF Communications Director, Gerry Rice, says Zimbabwe needs to first clear its arrears with other financial institutions.

“Zimbabwe would need to close/clear its arrears with other financial institutions, as well as reach an understanding with its bilateral creditors over clearance of arrears to them. Beyond the issues of arrears, consideration of any future request would require Zimbabwe to be ready to implement strong macro policies and structural reforms.”

With the country still under sanctions and the economy brought to a near standstill, the urgency for financial aid is now paramount. Ribeiro says government and agency partnerships are key in addressing the crisis.

“The COVID-19 response is an all society response. It’s an all government response, an all UN response. It really falls on each of us and, therefore, we need to step to the mark. While we are trying to contain the virus, it’s important to keep an eye on the socio-economic so that Zimbabwe can recover better and stronger.”

Zimbabwe has far managed to keep a low infection rate. Only 34 cases have been confirmed with four of those resulting in death. However, there are fears that if there’s a surge, the poor nation will crumble without funding.