WFP steps ups efforts to avert hunger

JOHANNESBURG - Amid reports the country will experience another year of food shortages, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) this week said it was stepping up efforts to avert hunger in Zimbabwe.

Officials told The Zimbabwean they had embarked on a number of programmes to shield vulnerable members of society from the setback, who over the years have borne the brunt of starvation over the last decade.

WFP is currently providing support to HIV/AIDS patients and their households, home-based care, orphans and vulnerable children, and internally displaced people targeting approximately 300 000 people. Subject to the location, beneficiaries receive assistance in-kind, or as a combination of food and cash or through Electronic-vouchers to be redeemed in shops. In terms of what WFP is currently doing in Zimbabwe, during the 2010/11 lean season, at peak WFP assisted some 1.3 million people in Zimbabwe until March 2011 as part of the Seasonal Targeted Assistance (STA) and Safety Net (SN) programmes, Stephanie Savariaud, WFP Public Information Officer for East and Central Africa, said from Nairobi Kenya.

WFP, which is part of an elaborate multi agency partnership with the government under the umbrella Zimbabwe Vulnerability Committee, has, since the collapse of the countrys commercial agricultural sector, sourced food for millions of Zimbabweans who faced starvation over the last decade. Zimbabwe, formerly a food exporter, has over the years relied on food imports and handouts to avert hunger.

This coincided with the so-called land reform exercise that the Mugabe regime embarked on in 2000, purportedly to distribute among indigenous Zimbabweans. The partisan project, which was marred by violence against mainly white commercial farmers, saw prime land end up in the hands of Mugabe and his cronies as well as ill-equipped new farmers. A report released in April said six of the country’s ten provinces were faced with severe food shortages with Masvingo, parts of Manicaland, Midlands and the Matabeleland Provinces cited as the worst affected.

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