WFP moots trimming number of Zim food aid beneficiaries
By Staff Reporter
THE World Food Programme (WFP) could be left with no choice but to limit its food assistance to fewer Zimbabweans facing unprecedented hunger if no urgent measures are put in place to assist nearly 8 million people.
This was said by the world’s largest humanitarian aid agency’s Regional Director for Southern Africa Lola Castro in the wake of the catastrophe.
The crisis has been caused by repeated drought, widespread flooding and budget constraints among affected countries.
To that end, WFP is set to avail much-needed assistance to 8.3 million food insecure people in eight hardest-hit countries; Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Malawi.
Said WFP: “To date, WFP has secured just US$205 million of the US$489 million required for this assistance and has been forced to resort heavily to internal borrowing to ensure food reaches those in need.
“Zimbabwe is in the throes of its worst hunger emergency in a decade, with 7.7 million people – half the population – seriously food insecure.”
The case is the same with the country’s northern neighbour Zambia which has now resorted to strict cereal exports and accepting outside assistance.
At least 20 percent of the population of drought-stricken Lesotho are also now severely hungry, as are 10 percent of Namibians.
WFP noted that the hunger crisis affecting the countries was impacting negatively by surging food prices, large-scale livestock losses and mounting joblessness.
The countries are already grappling with high rates of malnutrition, population growth, inequality, and HIV/AIDS.
Families across the region are eating less, skipping meals, taking children out of school, selling off precious assets and falling into debt.
“This hunger crisis is on a scale we’ve not seen before and the evidence shows it’s going to get worse,” said Castro.
“The annual cyclone season has begun, and we simply cannot afford a repeat of the devastation caused by last year’s unprecedented storms.”
He added, “If we don’t receive the necessary funding, we’ll have no choice but to assist fewer of those most in need, and with less.
“Nor will we be able to adequately expand longer-term activities vital to meaningfully combating the existential emergency that is climate change.”
Addressing the media this past week, Vice President Kembo Mohadi said government will not allow any citizen to die of hunger.
“It is not the first time that we are having a drought in Zimbabwe and we have always said in government that nobody will die of hunger and still no one is going to die of hunger in Zimbabwe.
“We are going to marshal all the resources that we have towards the provision of food for our people and if need be, then we will call other people like the World Food Programme to assist us but definitely we are on top of the situation,” said Mohadi.
Incidentally, the VP is also a victim of the current crisis, having lost 271 cattle at his Beitbridge farm in the current crisis.