THE United Nations plans to raise $1.6 billion from donors to improve agriculture, food security, health and governance in Zimbabwe between 2016-2020, its representative in the country said on Friday.
Over the last decade, the UN has taken a prominent role in raising money for humanitarian and development aid to Zimbabwe after the West withheld direct budget support in 2002 over policy differences with veteran President Robert Mugabe.
Western donors like United States and European Union funnel financial aid through charities and the U.N., leaving Zimbabwe to fund its budget from taxes because it does not qualify for international credit due to a foreign debt of $9 billion.
Bishow Palajuli, the U.N.’s resident coordinator in Zimbabwe said the global agency had raised $1.64 billion for its Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) which started in 2012 and ends this year and was now seeking to do the same for the next four year period.
Parajuli however said donors were financially stretched, trying to cope with humanitarian crises around the world.
The UN official sealed the deal in Harare with Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda who welcomed the world body’s shift from humanitarian to developmental assistance.
“Without doubt, this will add value to Government’s developmental efforts by shifting the focus of the UN system from humanitarian to developmental support,” said Sibanda.
“It is against this background that I am confident that the new ZUNDAF cycle will further buttress the accelerated implementation of Zim-Asset through the provision of technical and financial assistance to the various projects and programmes.”
Early this month Zimbabwe asked for financial support from the West for the first time in a decade at a meeting with Western diplomats and international lenders.
The International Monetary Fund has predicted weaker growth in Zimbabwe after a drought hit farm output, while several companies are closing due to lack of credit, power shortages and competition from cheaper imports.
Zimbabwe will this year import 700,000 tonnes of the staple maize following the drought and officials from foreign relief agencies say up to 1.8 million people – more than a tenth of the population – may require food aid this year.