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10 May 2022

Report of the Rapid Situation and Needs Assessment at Chirundu/Beitbridge Borders in Zimbabwe

Informal cross-border trade (CBT) is significant in Southern Africa, accounting for between 30 and 40 per cent of total intra-Southern African Development Community trade, with an estimated value of USD 17.6 billion. Women make up approximately 70 per cent of informal traders, face gender-specific risks and are more susceptible to harassment, abuse and exploitation. The majority of female informal cross-border traders (ICBTs) are relatively poor, with low levels of education, yet they support some of the most fragile and impoverished communities. Accordingly, any threat to informal CBT poses a threat to the most vulnerable and least resilient. The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to significant challenges regarding the continuation of informal CBT as a result of the measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus, including border closures and travel restrictions. These changes have had a catastrophic impact on the livelihoods of ICBTs, as they are unable to conduct their routine trade. COVID-19 restrictions have hit informal trade harder than other sectors, with women hit particularly hard by economic losses. A rapid needs and baseline assessment was undertaken in four countries, namely Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe in order to understand the impact of COVID-19 on informal CBT. This report gives the findings and recommendations from the assessment done in Zambia. The assessment was conducted within the framework of a project supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.


  • List of figures 
  • List of tables
  • List of abbreviations and acronyms
  • Executive summary 
  • 1. Introduction 
    • 1.1. Project background 
    • 1.2. Objectives of the assessment
    • 1.3. Scope of the assessment 
  • 2. Methodology, assumptions and limitations 
    • 2.1. Assessment methodology 
    • 2.2. Assessment assumptions 
    • 2.3. Limitations of the assessment 
  • 3. Chirundu/Beitbridge borders 
    • 3.1. Description and location for Chirundu and Beitbridge
    • 3.2. Demographics and main economic activities at the border 
    • 3.3. Trade and migration at the borders 
    • 3.4. Cross-border traders association and other informal cross-border trade-support agencies/organizations at the border 
  • 4. COVID-19: Challenges, impact and possible solutions 
    • 4.1. COVID-19: What it is; national, regional and global trends and statistics 
    • 4.2. COVID-19 at the border 
    • 4.3. Incidence of COVID-19 and its management at the border 
    • 4.4. Impact of COVID-19 on informal cross-border trade at the border 
    • 4.5. National response to COVID-19: health measures, lockdowns and others 
    • 4.6. National economic recovery plans and COVID-19 
    • 4.7. National strategies and action plans for informal cross-border trade in relation to COVID-19 
    • 4.8. Informal cross-border traders’ viable livelihood alternatives in response to COVID-19 
  • 5. Gender and COVID-19 management in national responses, strategies and action plans 
    • 5.1. Gender and COVID-19 management nationally 
    • 5.2. Gender and COVID-19 management at the border 
  • 6. Conclusions 
  • 7. Recommendations
  • Annex 1. Terms of reference
  • Annex 2. Sample of interviewed stakeholders and key informants 
  • Annex 3. Data collection tools
    • Annex 3.1. Individual informal cross-border trade interview questionnaire
    • Annex 3.2. Border post walk-through observation tool 
    • Annex 3.3. Border market walk-through observation tool 
    • Annex 3.4. Border stakeholder interview questionnaire
    • Annex 3.5. Cross-Border Traders Association data collection tool 
    • Annex 3.6. National stakeholders: Ministry of Industry and Commerce interview questionnaire 
    • Annex 3.7. National stakeholders: Ministry of Women Affairs interview questionnaire 
    • Annex 3.8. National stakeholders: Ministry of Social Development interview questionnaire 
    • Annex 3.9. National stakeholders: Ministry of Health and Child Care interview questionnaire 
  • References