USAID announces additional emergency food aid for Zimbabwe

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it is delivering an additional 47,400 metric tons (MT) of food assistance to Zimbabwe. This donation will be distributed through the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the NGO Consortium for the Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE).

This additional tonnage from USAID will bring the total fiscal year 2007 U.S. food assistance to Zimbabwe to 143,270 metric tons, valued at approximately $145 million -- meeting approximately one-third of the assessed food emergency needs through the country's next harvest in March of 2008.

The cornmeal, bulgur wheat, oil and beans provided by the U.S. Government will be distributed freely, based on need, to those Zimbabweans who are unable to provide food for themselves and their families. This new contribution of 47,400 MTs of food is enough to feed over half-a-million people for a full six months.

Detrimental Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) policies, coupled with poor rains and drought conditions during the 2006-2007 agricultural growing season, resulted in widespread crop failure and severe yield shortfalls in the southern part of the country. The drought has exacerbated the country's ongoing economic and political crisis. It is estimated that the number of Zimbabweans in need of food assistance will peak at 4.1 million -- more than a third of Zimbabwe's estimated total population -- at the height of the hunger season between January and March 2008, according to a recent UN report. Experts estimate that this year's maize production will leave between one-third and one-half of the country's food requirements unsatisfied.

"America remains committed to breaking the cycle of hunger throughout Africa. The combined efforts of the United States Government, U.S. private voluntary organizations (PVOs), and the UN World Food Program have averted a widespread humanitarian crisis in southern Africa this year," said Mike Hess, Assistant Administrator for USAID's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict & Humanitarian Assistance. "We urge international donors to honor their pledges for greater assistance and call on African governments to continue the reforms that will ultimately lift their populations out of poverty."

USAID has been actively involved in responding to the food security situation in Zimbabwe since early 2002 and has delivered more than 700,000 MT of food aid valued at more than $400 million to Zimbabwe over the last five years, making it the largest donor of food assistance in that country. USAID also supports emergency food aid programs in other countries in the region including Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique.