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.
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 weekly high level coordination meetings on Tuesdays in the Emergency Operations Centre. During the reporting week, 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 7 May, a COVID-19 Addendum to the Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was published requiring US$84.9 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 updated Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) as one of the countries requiring immediate support for prioritized COVID-19 interventions.
Humanitarian partners and donors meet bi-weekly (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. Due to the COVID-19, all meetings are being held virtually.
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.