ACT in multi-million dollar appeal for Zim

By Allen Muzhingi GENEVA, based Action by Churches Together (ACT) International has issued a $3.6 million appeal to respond, over the next twelve months, to the growing humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

ACT said an inflation rate exceeding 7,000 percent has had a devastating impact on the general population, but especially so on vulnerable people already struggling to make ends meet. Aid agencies have cast doubt on the official crop forecast and have warned of another food deficit in the country this year, saying a lack of inputs such as seed and fertiliser has undermined production in the last summer cropping season. The ACT members implementing the alliance’s response, Christian Care (CCARE) and Lutheran Development Service (LDS), report that factors that have hastened the country’s economic decline include the HIV and AIDS pandemic, the impact that restructuring the agricultural sector has had on the overall food security, and a massive unemployment rate, with some 80 per cent of the population considered to be living under the poverty line. In addition, 2007 saw one of the worst harvests in recent times, with the year officially designated as Drought Year by the government. The two ACT members aim at making food immediately available to families that have been identified as being particularly vulnerable in the Chivi, Mwenezi, Zvishavane, Mberengwa, Gwanda and Beitbridge districts. The Christian organisation said In total, close to 51,000 people will receive food aid, if the appeal is fully funded. The households being assisted include those headed up by women, children and elderly persons, as well as widows and widowers, people suffering from terminal illnesses or are physically challenged. Also considered vulnerable, are households living with orphans and other vulnerable children, and families with very little agricultural means to support and sustain themselves. The UN food security body in its latest report said a third of the 12 million Zimbabweans will be confronted with serious food shortage because of poor harvest and building economic crisis. The report prepared by WFP and UN Food and Agriculture Organization says the situation is also worsened by drought, hitting the southern African region the hardest. The drought, the report adds, has caused food shortage of grave nature in Swaziland and Lesotho, among other southern African countries. The country is battling a deep recession marked by world record inflation of 1,200 percent, unempolyment above 70 percent and shortages of foreign currency, fuel and food. Zimbabwe has experienced food shortages since 2001 after being hit by drought and disruptions to agriculture blamed partly on the government’s seizure of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

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