Red Cross sends help as millions face food shortages in Zimbabwe

The British Red Cross has pledged £25,000 to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe where more than two million people are facing food shortages in the coming months.

The pledge, taken from the charity’s Disaster Fund, will go towards an appeal launched by the International Federation of the Red Cross to help Zimbabweans.

The appeal will help people in the Gwanda District of Matebeleland South Province – one of the worst affected areas.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross is targeting Gwanda District as there is no other organisation responding to the lack of access to food in the region.

The charity aims to:

  • Provide food assistance to 10,500 people (2,100 households) for three months
  • Reduce the risk of waterborne and water-related diseases
  • Support farmers and households in producing small grains and the postharvest handling of grain

Worsening hunger

A projected 2.2 million people could find themselves without access to the food they need to survive at the height of the crisis in March – a 32 per cent increase on last year.

It is also estimated that 3,000 children have dropped out of school in Gwanda – some to help their families earn a living, others because their parents can no longer afford school fees. Meanwhile poor families have cut the number of meals consumed from three to one a day.

Some households have resorted to a diet of mainly wild fruit, compromising their dietary needs. Families have also exchanged livestock for cereal to survive, reducing their assets and wealth.

The origins of the food shortages include: prolonged dry spells, erratic rainfall, and people having limited access to seeds for planting due to the poor performance of the 2012/13 agricultural season. These factors have all aggravated the situation.

How we’re helping

The priority for the Red Cross is to give immediate help to ensure that people are getting three meals a day and that these meals meet minimum daily energy needs. Among the activities planned are:

  • Distribution of food vouchers and nutritional training to 2,100 households
  • Rebuilding of 35 boreholes to provide access to safe drinking water for people and livestock
  • Community education on health and hygiene promotion and HIV prevention
  • Distribution of drought-resistant vegetable seeds
  • Training 105 lead farmers in areas including disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, crop production, seed preservation and post-harvest technology.