The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is this week conducting a visit to Chirundu and part of the Supporting Informal Cross-border Traders in Southern Africa to do Business Safely during the COVID-19 Pandemic project.
Informal Cross Border Trade which accounts for up to 40% of total intra-SADC trade, with an estimated value of US$17.6 billion has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic because of border closures and travel restrictions throughout the region. These measures have had a negative impact on the livelihoods of Informal Cross Border Traders (ICBTs) as they are unable to conduct their trade normally.
The project managed by IOM Zambia is implemented in conjunction with IOM missions in Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom, the initiative aims to contribute towards the enhanced protection of the health and economic rights of ICBTs through the facilitation of continued trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The visit which began yesterday marks the commencement of several interventions including training for both frontline border officials and ICBTs on COVID-19 infection prevention and control, trade, and travel restrictions and traders’ rights, inter-agency consultations, the development of cross border action plans and the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The visit provides an opportunity for interaction among the project steering committee, border officials, and informal cross-border traders. Participating will be officials from the ministries of Industry and Commerce, Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development, Industry and Trade and Health and Childcare including local authorities, the Department of Immigration, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), and representatives of Cross Border Trader organizations and officials from IOM.
Mr. Eric Chikukwa, Programmes Manager of the Zimbabwe Cross Border Traders Association (ZCBTA), thanked FCDO and IOM for the project which will empower his organization’s members.
“For cross-border traders, the value of correct information relating to trading safely during COVID-19 cannot be overemphasized. We appreciate the platform of engagement,” Chikukwa said.
Speaking at the launch of the visits, Head of IOM Zimbabwe’s Governance and Development Unit, Esther Wiesmann, thanked FCDO for supporting the government to promote safe trade during the pandemic.
“Informal cross-border traders have a critical role to play in mitigating the negative socio-economic impact of COVID-19. We must continue to equip those engaging in Informal Cross Border Trade and the frontline officials who work with them daily, with the tools to operate efficiently during the pandemic.”, Ms. Wiesmann said.