Villagers face starvation as aid agency pulls out

Villagers in Makoni district are facing food shortages as aid agencies are pulling out, citing financial constraints.

Villagers told The Zimbabwean that the situation was “dire” and appealed for urgent government intervention.

They said the only maize they could get was being sold for $12 a bucket by some business people. They said the money was far beyond their reach because they were not employed.

“We can`t afford to buy maize at such a price. We are poor and we need government support. We have planted maize but we have not harvested yet so we need to be cushioned until harvest time,” said Mike Chingaira, a smallholder farmer.

Makoni rural district council chief executive officer Edward Pise confirmed that Makoni was facing food shortages and appealed for government help.

Pise said aid agency Plan International, which had been helping villagers, pulled out in February.

“Hunger is with us. Plan International has been assisting us but has pulled out citing resource constraints. Fifteen of the 39 communal wards are the most affected,” said Pise.

He said they were pinning their hope on maize, which was imported by government, but said it was taking long.

“They promised us aid, but we have not received anything yet,” he said.

According to the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP), as many as 2.2m people – a quarter of the rural population – are now in need of food assistance. This follows last year’s poor harvest caused by factors such as erratic weather patterns and high seed and fertiliser prices.

WFP had planned to be assisting 1.8m at this stage of the lean season (the period before next month`s harvest when most rural families have exhausted their own-produced food stock) but can only reach 1.2m people owing to funding challenges.

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