HARARE – Education Cannot Wait – a global fund to prioritize education in humanitarian action, has approved a US$1 million grant that will help quickly restore education services for 55,000 children in Zimbabwe, including 27,000 girls whose lives have been ripped apart by Cyclone Idai.
The new investment will help get children back in safe learning environments as soon as possible. It will be implemented by UNICEF (US$113,000 grant), CARE (US$100,000 grant), Plan International (US$225,000 grant), Save the Children (US$281,000 grant) and World Vision (US$281,000 grant).
The 12-month grant will establish safe learning spaces, provide teachers and students with learning materials, and train educators to provide the psychosocial support required to help children recover and rebuild after the catastrophic floods and destruction that affected some 270,000 people in the country, including 129,600 children.
According to recent reports, 139 schools have been impacted by the cyclone, affecting 90,000 students. The displacement of people also underscores the widespread disruption of learning, with some teachers and children being temporarily housed in collective centres or camp like settings.
Loss of life, injury, disappearance of family members, and the trauma and distress associated with the uncertainty and risk that goes with an emergency like this, is impacting the ability to re-establish learning as a normal part of community activity. Even where communities are able to return to their homes when water subsides, the levels of trauma and distress are preventing the resumption of classes.
Evidence shows that children who are out of school for prolonged periods of time after a disaster are increasingly less likely to ever return to the classroom. For girls, there is an increased risk of this prolonged absence leading to early marriage.
In the chaos caused by a natural disaster of this magnitude, children are always at greater risk of exploitation, including sexual abuse and trafficking. Older girls are also more likely to be held back from school to help with chores in an emergency situation.
By coordinating the response through the existing Education Cluster in Zimbabwe, the investment links with broader aid coordination structures. According to the Cluster, to date, close to US$1.5 million has been received for the education humanitarian response in Zimbabwe, with a US$6.6 million gap remaining.
Education Cannot Wait and its partners have committed a total of US$14 million to the educational response in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe further to devastation caused by Cyclone Idai.