UN needs $200m for food relief up to 2017

THE World Food Programme (WFP), a UN agency, Wednesday said it needed $220 million in funding to provide assistance to drought-hit Zimbabwe until March 2017.

Four million hungry ... Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira

Four million hungry … Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira

The number of people in urgent need for food aid has, according to government, risen to 4 million, as Zimbabwe faces its worst drought in more than two decades.

WFP said it was extending its food assistance provision programme to the country’s vulnerable communities to next year because of the debilitating impact of the drought.

A statement said WFP’ seasonal relief programme, which is designed to help vulnerable people through the difficult pre-harvest months and usually runs from October to March, is “ for the first time ever” going to continue into the coming year.

“Vulnerable people in Zimbabwe will continue to receive relief assistance from the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) through what is usually a period of bounty but which this year has turned into a time of want.

“WFP is extending its relief programme due to the punishing impact of El Niño on the food security of the country,” Eddie Rowe, WFP Country Director  said Eddie Rowe.

Rowe said this was in response to the rising number of people in dire need of food assistance from 3 million to 4 million as announced by Labour and Social Welfare minister, Prisca Mupfumira, this week.

This number is more than a quarter of the rural population who do not have enough to eat and have little or no guaranteed access to food.

“WFP is this month providing food and cash-based assistance to some 730,000 vulnerable people,” he said.

“Operations are being scaled up to reach an estimated 2.2 million people in the early months of next year, with the Government and development partners assisting the rest.”

WFP appealed to other donors to intensify efforts in mobilizing food assistance for the starving Zimbabweans.

Reports from the northern and southern parts of the country say some families are surviving on wild fruits as hunger bites and the situation is expected to continue till the next harvesting season.

“Many rural communities are in the grip of hunger and this is set to continue into next year,” said Rowe.

“We’re working with the government and donors to mobilize assistance to the most vulnerable but to reach all those in need we are dependent on the donor community continuing to fund our operations.”

The country’s high level of food insecurity is due to last year’s bad harvest which went down by over 50% compared to the previous year.

This has been caused by, among other factors, poor farming management skills, land policies and an unusually strong El Niño weather event which has resulted in reduced rainfall in Southern Africa.

Post published in: Agriculture

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