Aid interrupted: agencies resume distribution of 10,000 tons of food relief to Zimbabwe's vulnerable populations

APRIL 1, 2009 - As part of a larger emergency food aid program aimed at avoiding all-out starvation among 120,000 of the 5.1 million Zimbabweans expected by the UN to suffer from drought-induced hunger this spring, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (www.crwrc.org) began providing 10,000 tons of food in that country's most effected districts. However, the distribution was quickly disrupted.

The political and civil instability involved in the June '08 presidential run off elections that provided for a Mugabe-Tsvangiari unity government also resulted in a government-led cessation of humanitarian activities in the country.

That left more than 2200 tons of food in storage until the aid ban was lifted in October 2008.

"The distribution, through the regional offices of Christian Care Zimbabwe, is now going smoothly again," says Ken Little a senior project manager for CRWRC's international relief team.

CRWRC's target population includes more than 80,000 people who ill or are living with HIV and AIDS. In addition to emergency food supplies like corn, soy, oil, and ground nuts to feed vulnerable people until the next harvest in May 2009, chronically ill families are also receiving food supplements to fortify nutrition and immunity.

A distribution of seeds for planting is also part of the program, to help families turn toward self-sufficiency by early summer.

CRWRC's contribution, matched 4-to-1 by the Canadian government, is part of a $7 million Zimbabwe aid program with Canadian Foodgrains Bank (www.foodgrainsbank.ca). CRWRC's participation coincides with a July 2008 resolution by the Christian Reformed Church that expressed "solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe and in particular those Christian leaders who...live the Gospel of love in the face of hatred and violence." The denomination also participated, through the Micah Challenge, in the Pan-African Day of Solidarity for Zimbabwe with G-CAP, the Global Call to Action against Poverty.

Zimbabwe's economic free-fall continues, with the country facing one of the most significant food crises in the world because of the ongoing drought, poor agricultural policies, lack of crop inputs, hyper-inflation, and unchecked health concerns such as cholera and HIV and AIDS.

Members of the press requesting interviews regarding CRWRC's emergency relief response in Zimbabwe, call Ken Little at 1-800-730-3490 or 905-336-2920, ext. 246, or Beth DeGraff at cell 616-648-7821 or 1-800-55CRWRC (EST).

CRWRC is a Christian, non-profit agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, ministering in development, relief, and justice education with people in need around the world. CRWRC is currently active in more than 40 countries and has a 45-year reputation for "helping people help themselves."