Harare, January 20, 2016 – The US government has availed an additional $5 million to assist over 80,000 Zimbabweans cope with the effects of the El Niño, which has dried up rainfall across southern Africa over the last year.
The funds, according to a Tuesday statement from the US embassy in Harare, are being channelled through the super power’s aid agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“USAID’s additional $5 million contribution will support WFP’s Productive Asset Creation activity starting in May 2016 and will provide food rations or cash transfers to benefit over 80,000 individuals in eight districts across Zimbabwe over a six-month period,” said the embassy.
“In exchange for the food rations or cash transfers, beneficiaries will participate in the creation or rehabilitation of community assets, including irrigation systems and dams, to improve infrastructure and livelihoods for the future.”
USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Stephanie Funk said the agency was proud to support the World Food Programme to help vulnerable Zimbabweans cope with the drought period.
“This program addresses immediate food security needs while gradually helping vulnerable communities build resilience to climatic shocks and eliminating the need for food assistance in the long-term,” she said.
The beneficiaries are part of an estimated 1.5 million rural Zimbabweans in need of urgent food assistance during the current lean season.
With total contributions of $32.5 million, USAID is working with its implementing partners WFP, World Vision, and Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture to scale up food security programs across ten districts in Manicaland, Masvingo, and Matabeleland North and South, reaching 450,000 people with humanitarian assistance.
USAID Director of Southern African Affairs, Bradley Bessire, visited the country recently for a week to evaluate the scope and severity of the current lean season and El Niño’s impact on food security in Zimbabwe.
Bessire, who leads a working group in Washington that is coordinating USAID’s response to the effects of El Niño, reiterated US government’s commitment to assisting the country improve its food security situation.
Speaking after visiting two USAID-funded food security initiatives in Gwanda and Mzingwane, Bessire reiterated Washington’s commitment to assisting Zimbabweans improve their food security situation.
“I am impressed and inspired by the resilience of the Zimbabwean people,” he said during the visit.
“The United States will stand by the people of Zimbabwe during this drought, meeting their immediate needs while also reducing their vulnerability to shocks and building long-term food security.”
For more than 30 years, the American people, through USAID, have invested over $2.6 billion in Zimbabwe.
Current projects include initiatives to increase food security, support economic resilience, improve health systems and services, and advance a more democratic system of governance.