By Lynette Manzini
United Nations World Food Program(WFP)- requires about US$376 million towards averting hunger and food insecurity in urban and rural households in Zimbabwe as the country battles with the effects of COVID19, the WFP communication officer has said.
Southern Africa has experienced the worst drought in 40 years,coupled with economic turmoil and political instability in countries such as Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo where millions are food insecure.
Once known as the bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe has an estimate of 7.7 million people who are food in secure while an estimated 16 million from war torn Democratic Republic of Congo, also recovering from an Ebola outbreak, require food assistance.
The drought contributed to poor harvests in Zimbabwe which severely affected subsistence farmers and contributed to the shortage of the mealie meal, leading to some retail outlets restricting one 10 kg bag per person with names and identity document information were noted in an attempt to discourage people from buying more than one pack. Mealie meal is Zimbabwe’s stable food.
In an exclusive interview with Radio VOP the WFP communications officer Claire Nevill said while the organisation was already assisting rural and urban households in Zimbabawe more resources were required to sustain the response efforts.
“We are already delivering food assistance in both rural and urban areas, so this work is already underway but we need the funds to continue delivering this vital food assistance.”
“Right now WFP supports 100 000 people living in urban areas of Zimbabwe, and 3.7 million living in rural areas,” Nevill explained.
The United Nations and government of Zimbabwe are requesting a total US$715 million from the international community towards the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan a figure inclusive of the funds planned for averting food insecurity through WFP.
The Response Plan launched last Thursday seeks to target 5.6 million people with food assistance and support in the areas of health, water-sanitation-hygiene, education, protection, nutrition and shelter.
A press release from the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator Maria Ribeiro read, “The Humanitarian Response Plan will play a key role in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and protecting those most vulnerable in communities in Zimbabwe.”
In 2019 the Zimbabwe Humanitarian Response Plan was upgraded to $464 million in August targeting 3.7 million people.