The announcement builds on a foundation of more than $34 million in health and food security assistance, and nearly $125 million in total assistance that Switzerland has provided to Zimbabwe and the region over the last five years.
The new funds will support two organizations: $800’000 will go to SolidarMed, an international non-profit health organization for its regional COVID-19 response. The funding will support underserved districts across five countries in Southern Africa to prepare for and cope with COVID-19, including through the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline workers, among other measures.
The additional $1.5 million will go to the World Food Programme (WFP) Zimbabwe country office. The funds to WFP will help the Government of Zimbabwe to continue providing vital food assistance to the most vulnerable, while ensuring that all required health and safety measures are in place in order to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during food distributions. This includes protecting the safety of staff and beneficiaries with the required PPE, conducting health screenings at food distribution sites and increasing the distribution points so that guidelines on gathering and social distancing are respected.
Switzerland’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, Mr. Niculin Jäger, said that the assistance would strengthen Zimbabwe’s response to COVID-19, particularly in the health and food security sectors, which are currently facing a number of challenges.
“COVID-19 is a global public health threat that can be addressed best by close collaboration among governments and international organizations. Switzerland is working closely with the Government of Zimbabwe to support Zimbabwe’s response to this global pandemic,” said Ambassador Jäger.
“Through this support, Switzerland will not only help to prevent COVID-19 infection among frontline health workers, but will also help to increase the capacity of district hospitals in the region to diagnose and manage COVID-19 patients with a focus on critical high-risk groups such as patients living with HIV.”
“With many Zimbabweans already struggling to put food on the table, the COVID-19 pandemic risks causing even wider and deeper desperation. The $1.5 million allocation to WFP will go a long way in reducing chronic food insecurity in Zimbabwe,” added Manuel Thurnhofer, the Regional Director for Development and Cooperation at the Swiss Embassy.
Switzerland has an ongoing committement to deliver longterm support to Zimbabwe and the region. In this regard, it is financing a substantial development programme under its Regional Programme for Southern Africa focusing on HIV/AIDS, Food Security, Youth Employment and Arts and Culture interventions.