EU channels US$16.5M to assist Zim fight against Covid-19 and drought

The European Union (EU) has provided an additional US$16.5 million to support Zimbabwe`s fight against Covid-19 and assist communities affected by drought.

In a press release Monday, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said the aid package was meant to provide life-saving assistance to impoverished households suffering from crop and livestock losses due to drought.

“The aid package will also strengthen the preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic for countries in the region. In parallel, the EU is helping communities better prepare for natural hazards and reduce their impact,” he said.

The additional support to Zimbabwe is part of a €64.7 million (approximately US$ 75.78 million) package that the EU’s Department for Humanitarian Aid channelled to the Southern Africa region.

Other countries that are to benefit are Angola (€3 million), Botswana (€1.95 million), Comoros (€500,000), Eswatini (€2.4 million), Lesotho (€4.8 million), Madagascar (€7.3 million), Malawi (€7.1 million), Mauritius (€250,000), Mozambique (€14.6 million), Namibia (€2 million) and Zambia (€5 million).

A further €1.6 million would be allocated to regional disaster preparedness actions.

According to the EU, the funding will target: “food assistance to vulnerable households and helping farmers in the affected areas restore their means of subsistence; coronavirus prevention and preparedness actions to support local health systems and facilitate access to health care, protective equipment, sanitation and hygiene; disaster preparedness projects that also cover new needs brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Disaster preparedness is to include strengthening early warning systems and evacuation plans for communities at risk of natural hazards, and having emergency stocks of personal protective equipment; support for children’s education and providing training to teaching staff.

The humanitarian aid funding announced this week comes on top of the more than €67 million allocated to the SADC region in 2019 by the EU’s Department for Humanitarian Aid after the impact of the two cyclones, drought, and the economic and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

“Southern Africa has had just one normal rainy season in the last five years, with the last quarter of 2019 being one of the ten driest since 1981 for most areas, causing large scale livestock losses and damaging harvests.

“In many places, the current growing season is exceptionally hot and dry, while in several other parts of the region, erratic rains risk undermining harvests in 2020. In some countries, this burden comes on top of already-crippling economic woes. The coronavirus pandemic is likely to compound already significant humanitarian needs in the region,” said the EU department.

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