An emergency of this complexity and magnitude requires the close coordination of all stakeholders. The interaction with Government and frontline ministries, UN agencies and operational partners is vital in rolling out the multisectoral humanitarian support to complement Government’s interventions.
Continuous tracking of response progress, funding availability and resource capacity is key to ensure that critical gaps are identified and dealt with.
There is a need for increased coordination and information management under the government-led COVID-19 coordination structure with humanitarian and development partners, including communication of priority needs and gaps under the 10 pillars.
There is need for standardization and coordination of community engagement activities within the response to promote learning and ensure humanitarian standards are adhered to in the response.
A Standing Cabinet Committee, under the stewardship of the Minister for Local Government and Public Works, is tasked with overseeing the Government’s response efforts and coordinates with the humanitarian partners through the office of the UN Resident Coordinator. At the technical and operational level, the Department of Civil Protection (DCP) coordinates the overall Government response with OCHA and UN cluster lead agencies, and interacts with Provincial and District administrations.
On 19 March 2020, the Zimbabwe National Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19 was launched with an initial eight pillars of coordination, the creation of a national COVID-19 Response Task Force and the formation of the Inter-Ministerial Committee. Overall high-level coordination and planning is led by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) working with permanent secretaries of other ministries in support of the Inter-ministerial COVID-19 Task force, with bi-weekly high level coordination meetings on Tuesdays in the Emergency Operations Centre and operational inter-pillar coordination meetings on Wednesdays. In June 2020, the Permanent Secretary for MOHCC was appointed as Chief Coordinator of the COVID-19 response in the Office of the President and the Cabinet. On 4 August 2020, a new Minister of Health and Child Care was appointed by the President, with a new Permanent Secretary (PS) for the Ministry appointed on 3 August. On 18 August, in order to strengthen the National COVID-19 response, the Cabinet decided to merge the COVID-19 response into a single response plan comprising the Command Centre, Office of the COVID-19 Chief Coordinator and Ministry of Health and Child Care.
On 17 July, a COVID-19 Addendum to the Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was revised and updated integrating a multisectoral migrant returnees response, requiring $85 million to respond to the immediate public health crisis and the secondary impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable people. This is in addition to the $715 million required in the HRP. Zimbabwe has been included in the May July updates of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) as one of the countries requiring immediate support for prioritized COVID-19 interventions.
Humanitarian partners and donors meet monthly (and ad-hoc if necessary) under the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator. Individual sectors also meet on a regular basis and are chaired and co-chaired by the relevant line ministries and humanitarian cluster lead agencies. Inter-cluster coordination meetings take place bi-weekly chaired by OCHA, supported by a gender advisor, as well as coordinators for PSEA and community engagement since June 2020. Due to the COVID-19, all meetings are being held virtually.
A Community Engagement and Accountability (CEA) Technical Working Group was formed that will lead the implementation of identified priorities to strengthen community engagement and ensure that the needs of affected people are at the centre of response interventions.
Critical funding gap hinders operational coordination of the response. As of 18 August 2020, the Financial Tracking System (FTS) reports that the overall Zimbabwe HRP is 18.9 per cent funded with $151.2 million, with an additional $12.7 million funded outside this plan. The plan’s main non-COVID-19 part is 18.1 per cent funded with $129.7 million, whereas the COVID-19 Addendum and input to the Global HRP (GHRP) is 25.4 per cent funded with $21.6 million.
Only 11 per cent of the total requested has been committed, and this critical funding gap hinders operational coordination of the response.
Continuity of coordination personnel/expertise is not assured, and this presents operational difficulty where frequent personnel turnover is required during the HRP time frame.
Despite that the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 ensures the continuity of essential services, including humanitarian cluster activities, implementation and coordination have been constrained.