12 May 2020
The European Union has introduced a US$75 million package to help Zimbabwe in its battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
Of the total stimulus package, US$40 million was ejected via the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)’s Health Development Fund, while the remaining US$35 million was promised by EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen.
Over the past years, the relationship between Zimbabwe and the European Union has improved. During an Independence Day speech given last month, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa commended the EU for lifting its sanctions on Harare.
EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Timo Olkkonen said the 27 party bloc was one of the main contributors to Zimbabwe’s battle against the Covid-19 virus, in response to questions from The Sunday Mail last week.
“We are working with our partners on several fronts in the fight against Covid-19. The EU in Zimbabwe is one of the major donors of the health sector and our support goes through the UNICEF-administered multi-donor Health Development Fund (HDF),” Olkkonen said.
“In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have released an additional US$40 million to the HDF, on top of previous support of 126 million Euro (about US$138 million). This money will mainly support — through our implementing partner UNICEF — the Government’s effort in the fight against Covid-19.”
Ambassador Olkkonen added that US$15 million had already been set aside for the purchase of materials used to fight the pandemic.
“About US$15 million of that top-up has already been allocated for equipment (including Covid-19 testing kits and PPE), for mass awareness campaigns and for financial support to frontline staff — while we maintain our support to access to healthcare for the general population.
“In addition, we have requested our other partners, ranging from international and local NGOs to EU-funded civil society organisations and the Spotlight Initiative implemented through the UN systems, to re-route some of their activities and EU funding towards the Covid-19 response.”
Mr Olkkonnen also noted that the EU had pledged an additional package worth US$35 million.
“There is also an additional package of about US$35 million, which our Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, announced to the President recently. This package has three components: a) immediate additional funding to the HDF programme to import mainly more testing kits and protective equipment while maintaining adequate level of service in health facilities, b) additional humanitarian aid funding through the European Union’s Department for Humanitarian Aid, ECHO, the most vulnerable in the provinces most affected by the current food crisis and c) to support the post-Covid-19 food and water needs later in the year.”
The EU Ambassador also noted that part of an already announced top-up of US$13.5 million to the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund will be partially used to reinforce the coronavirus response, including bettering community-level water and sanitation facilities “within a couple of months.”
Zimbabwe has recently introduced an $18 billion Economic Recovery and Stimulus Package, designed to support the economy and offer aid to businesses and families which had been impacted by the coronavirus-driven economic slump.