Zimbabwe

Hunger situation worsens in Zimbabwe - World Vision appeals for more resources

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The food security situation in Zimbabwe has reached alarming levels as food relief agencies become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the hunger crisis. Food access in most areas of the country is extremely limited, while households are exhausting their coping mechanisms.

World Vision Zimbabwe, the largest humanitarian aid organization in Zimbabwe that plans to feeds over 700,000 vulnerable individuals through the USAID supported Consortium of Southern Africa Food Emergency (C-SAFE) and World Food Program (WFP) food pipelines is appealing for additional resources to meet the critical food insecurity situation.

World Vision Zimbabwe is feeding approximately 230,000 food insecure individuals through the WFP-funded Vulnerable Group Feeding Program and a further 300,000 through the C-SAFE funded Safety Net Feeding. Other C-SAFE partners reach out to and an additional 650,000 vulnerable people through Safety Net Feeding.

The WFP food pipeline is projected to run out of food in December due to funding challenges where at least US$140 million needs to be raised to secure 145,000 metric tonnes of food resources to last until the end of the food emergency period in March 2009.

As the hungry season peaks in January 2009, FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission projects that 5.1 million Zimbabweans will be in urgent need of food aid. However, many sources argue that the extent of the need is much greater, as original projections assumed significant imports by the Government of Zimbabwe which to date have achieved only one-third of planned.

The World Vision Zimbabwe Acting HEA Director Wilfred Sikukula is appealing for support of WFP fundraising efforts to mitigate the food crisis in Zimbabwe saying, "The WFP food pipeline is critical in complementing food resources secured through C-SAFE funding to address the chronic food shortage in the country. These resources need to be secured as a matter of urgency before the dire food insecurity situation becomes national disaster."

Due to the funding deficit, WFP has reduced monthly ration sizes for beneficiaries from 12kg to 10kg cereals, from 1.8kg to 1kg pulses as a measure to stretch the limited food resources to benefit more food insecure households experiencing chronic food shortages.

Commenting on ration cuts, Sikukula said, "The ration cuts are not drastic considering that at least 389,348 C-SAFE beneficiaries registered for October distributions food insecure individuals benefiting from the C-SAFE food pipeline receive a monthly food basket containing 10kg cereal, 1kg pulses and 0.6kg fortified vegetable oil. This decision was taken previously by C-SAFE to ensure food resources last through the critical hungry season. However, this move compromises the energy and nutrient composition of the ration"

The C-SAFE food pipeline has adequate food resources until the end of March and C-SAFE is scaling up while loaning WFP to meet shortfalls to the extent that it can to help meet the most urgent needs throughout the country. However, given the extent of the need and the grim prospects for the current agricultural season, the two programs (C-SAFE and WFP) will not be able to meet the full need through April and beyond.