The US $15 million donation comes at a time when the Zambian government had appealed for more relief food. In the national budget presented last week, Finance and National Planning Minister Emmanuel Kasonde set aside US $14 million for the commercial purchase of maize.
US ambassador Martin Brennan said the food aid was intended to "assist Zambia's most vulnerable people during the current food shortage". Close to three million Zambians are facing food shortages following two consecutive poor harvests, and concern has been raised over the impact of a possible drought this year.
The donation of sorghum and bulgur (partly cooked and dried wheat grains) follows a wrangle last year over the government's refusal to accept US-supplied GM maize on health and environmental grounds.
The World Food Programme (WFP) will distribute 10,000 mt of the US shipment, while their partners CARE International, and the church-run World Vision and Catholic Relief Services will distribute the remainder.
The US donation has beefed up existing stocks of relief food. "What I can say right now is that we have a healthy food pipeline, we are receiving thousands of tonnes of relief food every other week," WFP spokeswoman Sibi Lawson told IRIN.
Wheat and sorghum are generally accepted by Zambians, despite the fact that white maize is the staple food consumed by most households.
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