Major food aid restarts in Binga, Zimbabwe

Save The Children this week recommenced food distributions in Binga District in the northwest of Zimbabwe after a five-week suspension.
One of the first recipients was Mrs Kerasea Mapande - a 57-year-old widow caring for 21 children orphaned by AIDS and other causes. Mrs Mapande said "For a while I will be freed from hunting for [wild] food".

The charity intends to feed around 125,000 people in the coming month, up from 36,000 in September 2002. Zimbabwe and other countries in Southern Africa are facing an increasingly critical food crisis following two years of poor harvests caused predominantly by erratic weather. The food crisis has been compounded in Zimbabwe by economic and political difficulties.

Save The Children Zimbabwe Programme Director Chris McIvor said:

"Thousands of people in Binga and across Zimbabwe will only survive the four months until next April's harvest if there is a massive increase in food aid and food imports. Save The Children is determined to do everything possible to ensure it can continue to help those most in need."

The charity last week signed a new three-year agreement with the Government of Zimbabwe reaffirming its core humanitarian principles - including that all food aid distributions must be non-partisan. The agreement also reiterated Save the Children's commitment to co-operate with relevant authorities at national, provincial and district level. Save The Children's programmes in education, water & sanitation, reproductive health, childcare and protection in Binga, Nyaminyami and Zvimba are also covered by the agreement.

Stockpiles of 350 tonnes of food have allowed distributions to begin within six days from signing of the agreement last week and more food purchases by Save The Children from South Africa will be arriving in time to ensure distributions will not be disrupted.

For further inforamtion, please contact: Brendan Paddy on 020 7716 2281 or (out of hours) 07831 650409.

Notes to Editors:

A case study on Mrs Keresea Mapande and her family is available on request.

An estimated 16 million people in both rural and urban areas are facing serious food shortages and the threat of large numbers of hunger-related deaths in the Southern Africa region. The countries most affected are Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Angola and Swaziland.

Make a secure online donation to Save the Children's work in Southern Africa or donate by calling 020 7703 5400.

Save the Children UK is the country's leading international children's charity working to make a reality of every child's right to a happy, safe and secure childhood. The charity has 80 years' experience in working with the poorest children in 70 countries worldwide, including the UK.