Zimbabwe Crisis Response Plan 2020 - 2021

Last updated: February 26 2021
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People Targeted

IOM Vision

In this dynamic context, IOM seeks to ensure humanitarian protection and assistance needs are met through the provision of timely, multi-sector interventions, while simultaneously addressing the root causes of vulnerability related to natural hazards and food insecurity, thereby building resilience to future risks in Zimbabwe. Addressing and facilitating rights‐based service delivery and building capacity of local authorities and other key stakeholders as well as impacted communities will be critical across IOM's work.

Save lives and respond to needs through humanitarian assistance and protection

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People Targeted
People Targeted description

IDPs in camps and in host communities, migrants, those most at risk due to social-economic conditions, those affected and in need of mental health and psychosocial support, as well as those affected in their capacity for self-recovery.

Camp coordination and camp management

IOM, as the Shelter and CCCM Cluster lead, has been leading emergency humanitarian response interventions for the Cyclone Idai affected population. In collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe, IOM has established four IDPs camps, providing shelter to 224 households and 953 individuals. IOM has held bi-monthly meetings at the provincial level to discuss the conditions under which the relocation of IDPs from camps to temporary displacement sites may be able to occur and reviewing progress made by the government on permanent relocations. IOM, through its DTM teams, conducts monthly multisectoral assessments in camps to ensure a consultative displacement management process with affected populations. IOM as the CCCM cluster lead conducted activities in the camps until the end of August 2019. Government has taken over the management of the camps from October 2019.

Twelve months after Cyclone Idai, the conditions in the camps have  deteriorated leaving IDPs in increased vulnerability. After the rainy season (November to March), the emergency shelters that were provided in the first stage of the emergency, prepared to last three to six months, haves worn out and WASH infrastructure is no longer viable. There is an urgent need of new infrastructure and upgrade of emergency shelter.  Organization and security committees in the camps created by IDPs have dissolved and protection issues are increasing. CCCM is still indispensable to ensure accountability to affected persons (AAP), the implementation of a camp exit strategy and technical support to the government to operationalize a relocation plan are essential. The possibility of the relocation of IDPs in camps is not feasible in the short term and it is anticipated that IDPs will remain in the camps for between six to twelve months more. For this reason, IOM will continue providing technical assistance through the following activities:

  • CCCM service delivery, monitoring of standards and implementation of referrals;
  • Information management through day-to-day site monitoring and coordination meetings with IDPs committees, partners and local authorities;
  • Providing support to closed sites, including infrastructure decommissioning and transportation for the most vulnerable to return or relocate, when and as appropriate, in accordance with international standards;
  • Technical support to stakeholders at the site level and local authorities;
  • Capacity building for government and community actors;
  • Supporting community-based site management interventions/programmes and contingency/preparedness structures and plans;
  • Supporting inclusive community mobilization and capacity building activities to enable local management and the improvement of camps, and discussions on intentions regarding returns;
  • Providing mental health and psychosocial support, through local partners, to individuals and families staying in camps, as well as during the relocation process;
  • Establishing complaints and feedback mechanisms;
  • Providing technical support to the government on the development and operationalization of an exit strategy and relocation plan.
  • Decommissioning of worn out infrastructure and establishment of new WASH facilities.
  • Provision of new emergency shelter tents/tarpaulins.
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Mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian response

The loss of homes and belongings, mounting physical insecurity and possible violent experiences, as well as the overall devastation caused by Cyclone Idai, has left affected communities in distress. Displacement has challenged the usual social networks that individuals and families normally use to cope with distress and has resulted in the acute need for dedicated mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS).

IOM, in partnership with the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), has been working to strengthen the capacity of communities to cope with the impact of the disaster through MHPSS direct service provision. This is done through psychosocial mobile teams (PMTs) who perform house visits in communities, as part of a Whole Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), to respond to the MHPSS needs of displaced populations. 

These psychosocial mobile teams (PMTs) provide multidisciplinary psychosocial support to deliver community-based comprehensive care to individuals, families and groups. These include members of the concerned communities that have been trained. Their mobility allows for flexibility of programming (sites, responses, timing), which is an essential component when dealing with emergencies and allows outreach and proximity to the communities over time and displacement phases.

The teams have three distinct visions of action: continuous home visits; daily stay with people in acute conditions and one-off interventions in crisis situations; as well as psycho-education and psychological first aid. In addition, IOM will work to support protection and health referral pathways to ensure that services are provided in a coordinated and complementary way to those in need.

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Over the past two decades, Zimbabwe has experienced macroeconomic challenges and has witnessed multiple and complex migrations characterized by high levels of cross-border mobility, brain drain, irregular migration, human trafficking and mixed migration flows. With vulnerabilities increasing as a result of Cyclone Idai and the food crisis, protection has been consistently identified as a major gap. IOM’s response aims to promote the protection of IDPs, returnees and host communities in different areas of Zimbabwe, assisting vulnerable populations, including victims and potential victims of GBV, as well as other persons at risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.

IOM aims to support the implementation of activities to: 

  • Increase awareness of risks of trafficking in persons and GBV in specific emergency situations;
  • Support the establishment of safe reporting mechanisms (such as hotlines) and safe spaces/shelters, focusing in vulnerable areas, such as displacement camps; 
  • Facilitate access to services responding to individual needs of crisis-affected persons, including survivors of GBV;
  • Strengthen measures that aim to mitigate risks of and prevent GBV in emergency settings;
  • Improve advocacy and protection of unaccompanied migrant children to avoid coping mechanisms that could put their safety at risk; 
  • Provide MHPSS services to vulnerable protection cases.

As a key part of any humanitarian response, protection mainstreaming and IOM's GBViC Framework's (2018) guiding principles will be incorporated in all of IOM's crisis-related activities. As such, IOM ensures the "Do No Harm" principle, while promoting non-discrimination, meaningful access, safety, dignity, participation, empowerment and accountability measures are an integral part of its crisis response.

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Displacement tracking for humanitarian response

Information on affected and displaced populations has been a key gap of the emergency response in Zimbabwe due to the rural nature of the affected districts. In order to ensure a more robust and targeted response for the humanitarian community, IOM is implementing its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) tool to provide key information and critical insights into the situation of internally displaced and affected persons in Zimbabwe. The DTM comprises a set of information management tools which are used to collect primary data and disseminate regular and accurate information to humanitarian partners. 

Specifically, a scaled-up DTM intervention will provide humanitarian stakeholders with a mapping of displacement sites, demographics of those most affected, mobility tracking as populations move to and from sites towards return and relocation, as well as detailed inter-sectorial information on all assessed sites to support strategic decision making around resource allocation. The DTM products will include maps, dashboards, narrative reports and raw data, which will be shared with humanitarian partners on a regular basis. It will also include detailed inter-sectorial information on all assessed sites to support strategic decision making around resource allocations. Collected data will be disaggregated by sex and age, as well as disabilities and other vulnerabilities.

Similar data is currently being collected for Mozambique and Malawi, ensuring a regional perspective is integrated into the data analysis, including assessment of cross border needs and linkages in the movements of affected persons.

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Shelter, settlements and non-food items

Shelter support is vital to the return and recovery of displaced populations. Shelter needs remain high across all affected districts, as 128,270 people have been affected by Cyclone Idai. Out of the 12 districts, the districts of Chimanimani, Chipinge, Buhera and Mutare are the most affected, with a total number of 104,270 individuals still in need of assistance. The majority of IDPs (97 per cent) are residing with host communities, with a small proportion (three per cent) currently seeking shelter in four established IDPs camps. Shelter assistance has so far focused primarily on Chipinge and Chimanimani districts, but there are significant shelter damages reported in Buhera and Mutare, other low-lying areas of Masvingo and Manicaland Province, where many IDPs have been able to seek shelter with relatives and community members, creating a risk that hosting arrangements will add significant stress to hosting households. It is against this background that IOM has recognized the necessity to continue its humanitarian response as part of a comprehensive multisectoral intervention.

With only 18 per cent of the affected population having received emergency shelter support, there is a need for further construction of emergency and transitional shelters for IDPs in camps and host communities. Despite the desire of IDPs to return to rebuild their homes and resume their lives, there are significant risks associated with rebuilding in flood-prone areas. It is critical to mitigate the risk of floods and storms destroying hastily repaired or reconstructed homes and causing secondary displacements. IOM, as the lead of the Shelter/CCCM Cluster, will work with cluster partners and affected communities to improve shelter conditions in host communities and improve living conditions in, and management of, displacement sites.

The aim of shelter assistance programmes is to ensure that families have adequate, appropriate and safe shelter to support their transition towards permanent and durable housing, prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable, ensuring participation, freedom of choice, and access to basic services to ensure a life of dignity through the following activities:

  • Assessment of damaged infrastructure;
  • Conducting meetings at the district level to set up guidelines for beneficiaries’ selection criteria and registration;
  • Assessment of suppliers to coordinate the procurement of building materials (market assessment);
  • The mobilization of materials;
  • Capacity building for local community builders;
  • Construction and rehabilitation of emergency and transitional shelter structures according to Sphere standards;
  • Ensuring protection issues are observed throughout construction, including partitions and door locks to better protect women and girls, particularly single women and female-headed households;
  • Mainstream MHPSS services in all shelter activities and advocate for the right post-traumatic stress interventions;
  • Post distribution monitoring assessment;
  • Cluster coordination meetings.
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Health support

The humanitarian crisis has resulted in the weakening of social networks leading to a resurgence in HIV and other diseases in populations now socially marginalised" or "the humanitarian crisis has resulted in the weakening of institutions and national capacity to contain, manage, and treat HIV and other diseases. Over the last decade, IOM has implemented HIV/AIDS-related projects in partnership with governments, international organizations and civil society for mobile populations in crisis settings, including IDPs, families and partners of migrants, and victims of sexual and GBV and trafficking in persons.

IOM plans to address HIV/AIDS risks and vulnerabilities at all phases of the emergency, including activities on prevention and research. IOM will implement activities such as:

  • Providing direct services including voluntary testing, counselling and treatment services, including antiretroviral therapy. 
  • Strengthening the capacity of government partners in coordinating HIV responses;
  • Supporting the training of emergency responders;
  • Empowering emergency actors to include HIV services in their contingency plans;
  • Supporting the development of national guidelines for HIV response in emergency settings. 

IOM will work closely with policymakers on a range of issues related to HIV/AIDS in emergencies and population mobility, including access to health services, regional and cross-border cooperation, and discriminatory legislation and practices, such as mandatory HIV testing.

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Multi-sectoral support

Includes funding which supports multi-sectoral interventions or cannot be attributed to a specific activity area.
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Address the drivers and longer term impacts of crises and displacement through investments in recovery and crisis prevention

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People Targeted
People Targeted description

Cyclone Idai displaced and affected population in Manicaland and Masvingo Provinces.

Community stabilization

The protracted displacement situation in Zimbabwe is not only a highly destabilizing experience for the affected populations but also poses a significant nationwide development challenge, leaving IDPs in continued deprivation, without the prospect of a durable solution. It is both a humanitarian concern as well as an obstacle to long-term peace, recovery and reconstruction.

IOM will look to provide longer-term support to affected communities leveraging its emergency support provided through CCCM, S/NFI and Protection sectors to inform and assess key needs and priorities with communities post-disaster. Humanitarian emergencies such as natural disasters and migration crises make it difficult for individuals and communities to exercise empathy. This is particularly true in cases of displacement, which often result in tensions between the displaced and host communities. MHPSS can help affected individuals and communities restore empathy with one another, promote non-violent behaviour, humanize their relationships and encourage creative problem-solving. IOM will promote MHPSS and social cohesion, integrated into livelihood activities to ensure community stabilization.

IOM’s CCCM teams will support early recovery actors with key information on the community’s intentions post-disaster as well as leading in relocation operations if needed, while S-NFI teams will carry out return/relocation site assessments and planning. Additionally, in order to initiate early recovery processes in cyclone-affected areas, IOM will leverage IOM Zimbabwe’s 10-year experience in the field of recovery and resilience building. This includes working through local District Administrator’s office staff that have been trained in the program methodology to undertake the community-based planning (CBP) approach adopted by the Government of Zimbabwe as a standard approach to post-crisis recovery and durable solutions to displacement. The CBP will ensure District Administrators and ward counsellors are able to convene disaster-affected communities to plan, prioritize and organize populations to define and drive recovery processes, mainly on livelihood restoration. IOM’s approach will ensure communities are at the centre of defining and leading their own recovery processes, whilst "building back better" to reduce risks of future shocks.

IOM will improve human security by providing various assistance to individuals and communities affected by recurrent natural and man-made crisis in Masvingo and Manicaland Provinces and strengthen their resilience to future crises by implementing:

  • Livelihoods diversification activities;
  • Rehabilitation of water harvesting structures, including irrigation support;
  • Rehabilitation of dip-tanks;
  • Provision of farming inputs targeting nutrition gardens and smallholder farmers, and productive assets creation like fisheries and conservation farming;
  • Supporting market linkages.
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Displacement tracking for recovery and crisis prevention

Besides being used during emergency response, IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has also proven to be a highly beneficial component of preparedness and recovery activities. Information outputs from DTM can vary from raw data sharing to comprehensive DTM analysis reports tailored specifically to provide timely and accurate information regularly during recovery operations. 

Through analysis of IOM’s DTM data, IOM will be able to improve planning and assistance both at the place of origin and the area of displacement resulting in more effective reintegration strategies and coping mechanisms for displaced populations. IOM DTM will allow tailoring of programmatic activities to the needs of the displaced population, increasing the efforts to end displacement and support durable solutions by providing communities with the tools to accelerate recovery, transition and socio-economic development.

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Durable solutions

The specific vulnerabilities created by displacement have been intensified with time due to a lack of durable solutions, while resilience and the ability of communities to rebuild their lives even while displaced is starting to weaken since this has not been sufficiently supported. Displacement in the country also has serious economic, political and security implications. The presence of large numbers of displaced persons is causing stress on host communities, public infrastructure and social services and potentially jeopardizing development gains. IOM is thus focusing on ending displacement in protracted crisis situations by implementing a strategy supporting durable solutions for IDPs and monitoring progress towards that end. 

IOM promotes the rights of IDPs whether through voluntary return and reintegration, local integration or relocation. Durable solutions to displacement are indispensable for national, regional, and international peace and security and in order to create stable and secure conditions essential for achieving sustainable development goals.

IOM will continue providing technical support to government authorities through meetings, capacity building, trainings, and informational tools on how to develop and operationalize relocation plans and exit strategies in the case of camps. The Organization will also aid in supporting the implementation of durable solutions, through supporting livelihoods, sustainable development, good governance, the rule of law, social cohesion, and capacity-strengthening of national and local authorities as well as local NGOs working in early recovery.

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Strengthen preparedness and reduce disaster risk

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People Targeted
People Targeted description

District and provincial administration officers, members of the District Civil Protection Units (DCPU), and at-risk communities.

Emergency preparedness

IOM Zimbabwe uses its extensive expertise and experience to identify ways to more effectively address future humanitarian challenges related to natural hazards and disasters, ensure preparedness and enable a more effective operational response to crises. Zimbabwe faces a number of challenges: the country is prone to sudden natural disasters, including floods, storms and cyclones, as well as general droughts, resulting in large numbers of IDPs who require durable and sustainable solutions. Political uncertainty combined with this natural hazard-prone environment, compounded by the impacts of climate change, elevates the importance of preparedness measures. 

In this regard, IOM will seek to provide preemptive interventions in support of Government and community resilience to prepare for new crises and displacements caused by human or natural disasters. IOM will support the creation and operationalization of an emergency response strategy, working in close partnership with, and promoting synergies between, relevant government and non-governmental stakeholders.

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Displacement tracking for preparedness and risk reduction

Large-scale and protracted displacement situations triggered by disaster, environmental degradation and the effects of climate change constitute the main risks that IOM Zimbabwe is facing currently and will likely continue to deal with in the coming years and beyond. National and international actors are confronted with multi-variate factors that propel the forced migration of highly vulnerable populations. The growing complexity of crises in the country results in increasingly protracted displacement situations, with a seemingly insufficient political will to resolve many of the current crises. The reality highlights some key challenges for IOM which are likely to continue into the future and will be addressed by monitoring the displacement situation and ensuring a solid evidence-base to inform preparedness and risk reductions activities.

IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) data can inform not only the immediate response but also efforts to better prepare for future contingencies. IOM's plans to use the DTM to supports building the resilience of communities by providing data on the mobility patterns of vulnerable groups from high-risk areas, analyzing their needs and challenges. This will also include assessing the conditions of certain areas prone to disasters.

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Disaster prevention

Natural hazards in Zimbabwe frequently result in large-scale population movements, within and across borders, which reduce access to essential services and increase exposure to violence, impacting the health and well-being of both displaced populations and host communities. Disasters and environmental degradation also threaten to hamper progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially for a low-income country such as Zimbabwe. As environmental degradation and climate change are expected to increase the frequency and intensity of sudden-onset hazards and to worsen the impacts of slow-onset hazards, the implications with respect to human mobility will be significant.

To mitigate and prepare for such hazards, the Government of Zimbabwe enacted the Civil Protection Act as its national disaster legislation and created several institutions, such as the Department of Civil Protection, which is charged with the coordination and management of disasters and hazards. However, due to economic, social and political crises in the last years in the country, the low level of investment in development and a lack of resources has led these institutions to face severe challenges in executing their mandate, resulting in the increase of disaster impacts.

Zimbabwe has established a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) policy, but has a limited and constrained capacity to support these practices on the ground. There is a clear need for interventions that can provide technical support and train the institutions involved in DRR to effectively execute their mandates, create a culture of resilience to hazards, and establish concise preparedness plans to intervene in case of future crises. IOM will work in close coordination with the Government of Zimbabwe to establish a National Support Hub in Harare, as a coordination office for capacity building, as a disaster preparedness measure. This office will aim to strengthen the disaster risk management in Zimbabwe and to include public health risk reduction activities such as preparedness for disease outbreaks (including cholera). 

IOM aims to mobilize stakeholders at all levels to pay increasing attention to Disaster Risk Management (DRM) as part of their wider development agendas, and more crucially, to recognize the cross-cutting and central role of capacity development in the task of creating a culture of resilience to hazards. The systematic process of DRM uses administrative directives, operational skills and capacities to implement strategies, policies and improved coping capacities in order to lessen the adverse impacts of hazards and the possibility of disaster. Building DRM capacity is part of IOM’s efforts to strengthen the competencies and skills of government officials, groups and communities to support more durable solutions.

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Operational presence in


International staff and affiliated work force
National staff and affiliated work force
IOM field office


Figures are as of 31 December 2020. For more details of IOM's operational capacity in country, please see the IOM Capacity section.