Relief operations in Zimbabwe: Food for displaced farm workers

Mainly fertile grounds and a balanced climate favour the agriculture in Zimbabwe. Though there were floods as well as droughts now and then, which affected some regions of Zimbabwe, the crop deficits could be compensated - with few exceptions - through the surplus production of other national regions.
At the beginning of the year 2000 the Government of Zimbabwe, driven by President Robert Mugabe, initiated a resettlement program. White farmers were dispossessed in order to provide the landless and unemployed blacks with farmland. Since that time, 5.069 of the 6.000 white farms have been dispossessed and occupied. None of the 5.069 farmers is allowed to work anymore, nearly all are obliged to leave their property until 31st August 2002.

Outcome of this chaotic resettlement operation is, that the production of white maize, being the main staple food of about 12 Mio. inhabitants of Zimbabwe, decreased in 77 % (compared to the average production before the year 2000). Half of the population of Zimbabwe does not have sufficient production or a sufficient income at their disposal for covering their minimum food needs. The WFP has calculated, that solely in this year 705.000 t of crops have to be imported for emergency needs.

Not only the white farmers are asked to leave the farms, their workers are also no more desired on the farms. It is estimated, that about 200.000 farm-workers with their families are wandering the country in search for work or food. Every white farmer employed 64 workers on average, while every worker in turn supplies a family with 5 to 6 heads. If you multiply 5.069 white farmers with 64 workers and with 6 family members, then there will be nearly 2 Million people without work and income in addition by the end of August. Thus they are threatened in their existence.

Countless displaced farmworker families stay in the area around the capital Harare. The government does not want anyone to support them, because their ancestors usually immigrated from Malawi or Mozambique. Though born in Simbabwe, they are not regarded as citizens and should, concerning President Mugabe, go back to where they came from.

The project of HELP

It is planned to provide 500 families of farm workers twice a month with food-packages. As many of the families not even have a home, HELP will also distribute tents and blankets. The first distribution will start in the middle of Juli. This relief operation, supported by the German Foreign Office is planned to last until the end of December 2002 at first.

Composition of one food-package

  • 30 kg maizeflour
  • 3 kg beans
  • 2 l edible oil
  • 0,5 kg salt
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1 kg dried fish
  • 0,375 kg peanut butter
  • soap, matches, bag