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In July 2003, the United Nations (UN) in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and key NGO partners launched a Regional Appeal for US$ 533 million for a multi-sectoral approach to address critical needs in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Appeal was launched to address the needs of 6.5 million people for whom the prospect of survival remained critical in the face of the combined effects of food insecurity, weakened capacity for governance and Human Immune-deficiency Virus / Acquired Immune-deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).
At the time of the July 2003 launch there was some optimism that with the concerted efforts of the international community, in support of efforts of national Governments, the growing vulnerability in the region could be checked. However, this optimism is fading fast for two reasons. Firstly, the food security situation in the region is once again being severely threatened in several parts of the region as rains have either failed or have not fallen at the right time. Drought conditions are affecting southern Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho, where seasonal rainfall deficits range from 25-50%. Dry conditions and above-normal temperatures in the critical planting months of November and December have also caused stressed growing conditions across southern Malawi, eastern Zimbabwe, and central Mozambique. Seasonal rainfall totals since the beginning of November have been less than half of normal and many farmers have had to replant up to three times after early crops failed. Rainfall in the second half of January has relieved dryness somewhat in a number of countries. However, unless the rains extend beyond their normal end in March-April, yields of late-planted crops will be low. It is clear that now that the planting period for maize has ended, there is little hope of achieving even an average crop in the region.
The second reason for fading optimism is that the momentum of international support for humanitarian efforts in 2002/3 has not been carried through into 2003/4. The indications from donors, following the launch of the Appeal, that complementary assistance to support food aid would be forthcoming, have not materialised. While the response to food aid needs has been broadly positive (70% of needs covered to date), the overall response to non-food and activities supporting social service provision has been disappointing (14%). Several key donors have cited Iraq as a reason for the limited response.
On the positive side, the longer-term prognosis for support to address the impact of HIV/AIDS appears healthier. There are growing indications that the promised funding of HIV activities through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Bush Initiative and the World Bank will begin to flow into the region in 2004. A further positive indication was the clear commitments on behalf of several Governments to tackle the challenges posed by the pandemic. Under the leadership of the Secretary General, the UN has unveiled a robust and creative approach to address the triple threat of food insecurity, weakened capacity for governance, and HIV/AIDS. This approach has its roots in the humanitarian programme laid out in this Appeal in that it recognises the need for a blend of humanitarian and developmental interventions.
The effects that are being endured by the region's children best encapsulate the complex range of assistance interventions that are required. Declining health systems, missed opportunities for education, the added burden of children caring for children, threatens fundamental rights and is keeping many trapped in a cycle of poverty. The absence of clear national strategies to protect and care for those affected means that short-term emergency support is needed so that the minimum level of care and protection can be provided. The spectre of further drought conditions continues to add to the threat to lives and livelihoods and gives prominence to the need for food aid and measures to improve food security. However, the slow creep of the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to erode other key structures needed for future livelihoods. Urgent support is needed for interventions that will provide a firmer base for the future of the region's children.
As part of the Mid-Year Review exercise, country teams reviewed their Common Humanitarian Action Plans from July 2003. Consequently, projects totalling some US$ 25 million were either suspended due to the absence of rains; cancelled because funding to address the same problems has now become available under the Global Fund; or scaled down to fit the shorter period remaining for the current appeal. Projects totalling some US$ 19 million were introduced to refocus priorities based on updated assessment information. In addition, the World Food Programme's (WFP) original regional requirements of US$ 311 million were revised to US$ 432 million following final accounting for the previous EMOP and carry-over of requirements and contributions. The revised WFP requirements reflect the actual need for the appeal period, not new needs. Therefore, as of the Mid-Year Review, the total amount of the Consolidated Appeal for Southern Africa is US$ 642 million, of which US$ 318 is still sought.