Following relatively good rains in the 2019/2020 season, and a major scale-up in food assistance, there has been a reduction in severe food insecurity in 2020 compared to 2019. However, despite relatively good rains, nearly 3.4 million people in rural areas are projected to face Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phase 3 or above) food insecurity at the peak of the 2020/2021 lean season (January-March) and 2.3 million people in urban communities are estimated to be food insecure in 2021, according to the the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC). According to the 2020 rural ZimVAC assessment, households saw an average 51.5 per cent reduction in income compared to 2019, including due to COVID-19, while the IPC analysis highlights that an estimated 1.2 million people currently in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) would be at least one phase worse were it not for the assistance they are receiving.
Zimbabwe saw a sharp increase in protection concerns during the COVID-19 lockdown, including gender-based violence. From January to December 2020, 8,563 GBV cases were reported through the National GBV Hotline, about 175 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2019, when 4,876 GBV cases were reported through the Hotline. Children have been uniquely impacted by the combination of climatic shocks, economic challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 4.6 million children in Zimbabwe lost access to education and the protective environment provided in schools for over six months due to the pandemic, while over 1.7 million school children lost access to school feeding programmes. The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe has caused a decrease in quality dietary habits in recent years which is negatively affecting children’s nutrition, while nutrition referral mechanisms have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Distressed households have reported increased use of negative coping mechanisms including child labor, early marriage and transactional sex, while economic challenges are creating barriers for children’s return to education, especially for girls.
As of 31 December 2020, Zimbabwe had a cumulative total of 13,625 COVID-19 cases, 11,154 recoveries and 360 deaths. Harare, Bulawayo, Matabeleland South, Midlands and Manicaland provinces account for 81.1 per cent of all conﬁrmed cases in Zimbabwe. Children of school going age (5-19 years) account for 7.6 per cent of all reported cases. Access and utilization of essential health services including preventive, curative and rehabilitation services across the country, declined in the period from April to October 2020, compared to the same period in 2019: outpatient consultation declined by 49 per cent, attendance of pregnant women at the fourth antenatal visit declined by 55 per cent, and the number of people tested for HIV decreased with 45 per cent.
The 2020 Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), launched on 2 April 2020, indicates that 7 million people in urban and rural areas were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance across Zimbabwe. The United Nations and humanitarian partners revised the HRP in July to update the response to the COVID-19 outbreak integrating a multisectoral migrant response and reprioritizing humanitarian cluster responses. The updated COVID-19 Addendum requires US$85 million to respond to the immediate public health crisis and the secondary impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable people, in addition to the $715 million required in the HRP. By November 2020, humanitarian partners had reached 4.2 million people with assistance and protection.
On 1 December, the 2021 Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) was launched including Zimbabwe. The 2021 Zimbabwe HRP is being finalized in consultation with humanitarian and government partners.