UN launches new appeal as farmers lament failed agricultural season

poor_crop_1The United Nations has launched a multi million dollar appeal to help Zimbabwe bolster health, education, sanitation and food security, with officials explaining that an alarming number of people are still set to face hunger next year. (Pictured :Poor maize crop)

The UN assistant Secretary General for humanitarian affairs and deputy humanitarian coordinator, Catherine Bragg, said on Monday in Harare that social conditions in the country had improved since the formation of the unity government in February. Bragg was speaking during the launch of a US$378 million emergency aid appeal for Zimbabwe under which more than 70 aid agencies have said they would need at least that much to meet Zimbabwes humanitarian needs in 2010.

I want to note that Zimbabwe is experiencing a gradual shift from humanitarian crisis to recovery following political changes that positively affected socio-economic conditions, she said.

Bragg on Monday said priority would be given to rehabilitation of water facilities in urban and rural areas, where an estimated six million people have no access to basic water, sanitation and hygiene services. Bragg also stated that more than 1.9 million people are likely to remain food-insecure in the first three months of 2010, while about 650,000 communal farmers would require agricultural inputs.

The UN appeal is half as large as in 2009 when the UN asked for US$718 million. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has explained that the reduction in the appeal is partly as a result of improved agriculture and other economic improvements in the country. The group however noted that humanitarian assistance was still critical as millions of Zimbabweans still remain vulnerable from the erosion of basic services and livelihoods.

Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) President Deon Theron on Monday explained the UNs outlook is surprisingly positive, considering the country is facing yet another failed agricultural season. The commercial farming community remains in chaos as a result of the renewed land grab campaign, which has seen more than 80 productive farms forcibly seized by mainly ZANU PF loyalists in this year alone. Farmers and their workers have been prevented from continuing their farming activities, despite the country still facing critically low food production levels. Theron explained that it was unlikely that there would be enough food produced to feed even a small percentage of the country next year.

Meanwhile Therons elderly mother, who was sentenced to jail unless she vacated her dairy farm by Tuesday, has been granted a temporary reprieve by the courts.

79 year old Hester Theron, was sentenced last month under the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act, for refusing to leave her dairy farm, which has been her home since the late fifties. She was sentenced to three months behind bars, suspended for five years on condition that she vacates the property by this week Tuesday. But Theron has successfully launched an appeal against the sentence, and High Court Judge, Justice Joseph Musakwa, last week said she should not be evicted from her farm until her application has been heard.

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