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 programmeÂ to the countryâ€™s vulnerable communities to next year because of the debilitating impact of the drought.
A statement said WFPâ€™ seasonal relief programme, which is designed to help vulnerable people through the difficult pre-harvest months and usually runs from October to March, is â€œ for the first time everâ€ going to continue into the coming year.
â€œVulnerable people in Zimbabwe will continue to receive relief assistance from the United Nationsâ€™ World Food Programme (WFP) through what is usually a period of bounty but which this year has turned into a time of want.
â€œWFP is extending its relief programme due to the punishing impact of El NiÃ±o on the food security of the country,â€ Eddie Rowe, WFP Country DirectorÂ 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.
â€œWFP is this month providing food and cash-based assistance to some 730,000 vulnerable people,â€ he said.
â€œOperations 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.â€
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.
â€œMany rural communities are in the grip of hunger and this is set to continue into next year,â€ said Rowe.
â€œWeâ€™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.â€
The countryâ€™s high level of food insecurity is due to last yearâ€™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 NiÃ±o weather event which has resulted in reduced rainfall in Southern Africa.Post published in: Agriculture