WFP to Roll Out Food Scheme as Zimbabwe Fails to Import Maize

from Voice of America
Published on 02 Oct 2013 View Original

by Blessing Zulu, Ntungamili Nkomo

WASHINGTON DC — The World Food Programme (WFP) is this month expected to roll out its food and cash distribution programme to more than 2.2 people in half of the country’s 10 provinces facing famine.

But United Nations insiders are concerned that the WFP might struggle to raise enough cash.

The predicted hunger was published by Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) which estimates food security levels and identifies affected areas.

Each year ZIMVAC, a coalition of NGOs, researchers and government agencies, undertakes a major rural livelihood assessment, based on a sample of over 10,000 households across the country.

The government has been attempting to import maize from Zambia but has been hampered by lack of funds to transport the maize.

The WFP has been hit by donor fatigue though it promises to raise enough funds to help those in need of food. The United States government has promised to help Zimbabweans.

The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) strategic reserves are said to be empty. Provinces facing hunger include, Matabeleland North and South, Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands. Hunger is also creeping in traditionally safe provinces like Mashonaland Central and urban areas.

Zimbabwe has placed an order for 150,000 tonnes of maize from Zambia as part of an effort to plug the grain deficit gap amid allegations three weeks ago by the commercial farmers' union of Zimbabwe that the GMB only has about 20,000 tonnes of grain left — enough to last about five days.

A WFP study found that grain prices were 15 percent higher in rural markets than last year because of food shortages.

Christian Care director Stanslus Chatikobo said they are getting ready to distribute aid to the needy.

Farming specialists and ordinary farmers in Matabeleland have warned of yet another farming disaster season as preparations for the 2013/2014 farming season are crippled by the absence of subsidized seed and other inputs, draught power and high inputs prices. Most retailers do not have most of the required maize seed.

Meanwhile, a motion on hunger will be moved in parliament Thursday, laying the ground for government to take concrete measures to alleviate the dire situation.

Lawmakers from different parts of the country complain that many people in their respective areas are going hungry due to poor harvests last year. They want government to step in and also allow humanitarian groups to intervene without any limitations.

Binga is one such area grappling with hunger and the general effects of drought. Binga district chairperson Mukombwe Dube said government should move in quickly and save lives.