Sydney Kawadza in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
The Zimbabwean government has pledged to make a financial commitment to the African Humanitarian Agency which is expected to assist countries in times of natural disasters and other crisis.
This follows several pledges by some African governments, European states and development agency pledged several amounts to fund the agency with South Africa making the highest payment of US$10 million during the Extraordinary Summit on Humanitarian Affairs and Donors Conference in Malabo.
Speaking during the conference on Friday last week, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, however, called for innovative ways to raise resources for the agency.
Muchinguri-Kashiri and Foresign Affairs and International Trade Minister Fredirck Shava are representing President Mnangagwa at the extra-ordinary summit.
The defence minister, however, indicated that Zimbabwe would announce its commitment to funding the agency after government deliberations.
“In order to ensure sustainability of the Humanitarian Agency and its operations, it will be imperative to find innovative ways to raise resources beyond the traditional international partners,” she said.
Muchinguri-Kashiri said it was also important is to unpack the agency’s programmes and resources required in the immediate, medium and long term.
“This will enable us to come up with a manageable strategy to raise the required resources given competition for resources globally,” she said.
The defence minister said the situation of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons in Africa required sincere and coordinated efforts given the complex factors affecting our continent such as violent extremism, terrorism, political and economic crises, adverse impact of climate change and natural disasters, health emergencies such as Ebola and more recently COVID-19.
“Zimbabwe and the sub-region bear testimony to the adverse impact of climate change as evidenced by experiences from cyclone Idai, tropical storm Chalane and cyclone Eloise in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. In view of the aforementioned, we welcome the call for increased investments in Early Warning mechanisms at national, regional and continental levels to adequately respond to the natural disasters and extreme weather conditions,” she said.
On food security and nutrition, Muchinguri-Kashiri said Zimbabwe welcomed the Declaration’s proposal to identify preventive and adaptive approaches that enable communities to adopt climate-resilient and sustainable agriculture, new technologies and innovation.
“In that regard, the Government of Zimbabwe has put in place programmes aimed at capacitating vulnerable small-holder farmers, especially women.
“These programmes include revitalization and construction of new irrigation schemes, upgrading water and soil moisture management and water use efficiency,” she said.
According to Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zimbabwe aligns itself to the call for strengthening the continent’s public health systems to enable them to handle public health emergencies now and in the future, without compromising provision of services to manage other health programmes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On a related matter, it is also critically important to invest more resources to strengthen our research institutions and the pharmaceutical industry.
“Zimbabwe further welcomes the manufacturing of vaccines within the continent and hopes that more of the vaccines will be sourced from the continent at competitive prices.
“W the perennial humanitarian challenges. In this regard, Zimbabwe strongly supports the operationalization of the African Humanitarian Agency.”
According to the AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki, 113 million people are waiting for emergency assistance in 2022 on the continent’s most affected countries.
East Africa and the Horn of Africa are currently hosting 4.5 million Refugees, more than 75% of whom have been affected by the reduction in food rations in 2021.
Over the past two years, food requirements have increased by 70%, and more than 25 million people are in a situation of food insecurity in the same region.
In West and Central Africa, there are 58 million people in a state of food insecurity.
“This is the highest level of food insecurity since 2016. There are two million Internally Displaced Persons in Central Africa.
“This figure represents a 30% increase compared to 2020 and does not comprise the five million displaced persons in the Lake Chad Basin.
“In North Africa, more than 14 million people need humanitarian assistance,” Faki said.
Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo hosted the summit after several postponements.