Hunger Taking Its Toll In Zimbabwe

Wearing a pale face and torn pants, the man pleads with a Radio VOP crew to buy from him because his family needs the money.

“I am living with my four orphaned grand-children. These children were under the custody of my late wife. The eldest of them is in grade seven. I have nothing and no one to turn to. I had four beasts which were stolen. We survive on madhumbe. I sell for one dollar each,” Kindness Busangavanye, told RadioVoP at Checheche business centre.

“We are hungry here. We did not plant any crops because I did not have seed. Besides the scorching sun has wilted crops in this area,” said Busangavanye.

He is one of the estiimated five miilion Zimbabweans who will require food aid, as a protracted dry spell and poor rainfall this year and the collapse of the agricultural sector due to the invasion of productive farm land, has resulted in food shortages.

At Gudyanga shops in Chimanimani West, food shortages are looming because most crops wilted.

In other parts like Mberengwa, food aid is urgently required.

Casper Tokwani told RadioVOP recently that the situation was “bad” and they had turned to gold panning.

“We have nothing to eat and our fields have wilted. We have turned to gold panning for survival but it’s not easy,” said Tokwani.

A recent crop assessment tour by Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, showed that the situation was getting dire in most provinces. Tsvangirai was told by villagers that without aid they will not see the middle of the year.

The villagers also told the Premier that wildlife such as elephants were causing havoc by damaging crops.

Once the doyen of southern Africa in terms of agriculture, Zimbabwe has, in the last decade, seen a catastrophic decrease in food production. forcing many locals to survive on food hand-outs from international partners and donor agencies.

Intervention attempts by government to save the situation and raise funding for food imports seem to hit a snag owing to Zimbabwe’s human rights record.

The troubled southern African country has managed to command only US$105 million from the targeted US$379 million from international partners.

The government’s Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) for aid has not yielded much support although very little has trickled into the fund.

Regional Integration and International Cooperation Minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said recently that from the total funding request for CAP 2010 of US$379 million only US$105 million or 28 percent of required funding had come.

Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe appealed to donor organisations led by the United Nations, to consider revising the appeal from US$379 million because more “people will once again require food assistance this year”.

“Despite the support that was extended to farmers through inputs, preliminary crop assessments show that the country is headed for another drought year. So far indications are that a third of the country was affected by the dry spell,” said Khupe.

Apart from the natural problems, food aid being channelled by non-governmental organisations and international donors to people was being politicised.

Dorothy Mudariki told RadioVOP in Chiweshe recently food, seed, and any form of aid was being distributed along political party lines.

“They share among themselves. As long as you are not from Zanu (PF) you do not get it. We need serious help,” she lamented.

Despite the formation of the transitional government last year political polarisation still exist and the use of food as tool for support continues to divide communities.

But for Busangavanye, what is immediate to him is food aid at whatever cost.