Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Food security deteriorating

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JOHANNESBURG, 15 January (IRIN) - The food security situation in Zimbabwe has deteriorated in all parts of the country, according to the latest multi-agency vulnerability assessment conducted in December.
Numbers in need of food aid through March 2003 have increased from 6.7 million to 7.2 million (850,000 urban, 929,000 current and former commercial farm workers, and 5.4 million rural people), and the national food deficit could be expected to reach 222,068 mt, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator's Humanitarian Situation Report said this week.

The vulnerability assessment established that distribution of Grain Marketing Board (GMB) imports at the community level "is inconsistent with imports reported at the national level. It was noted that at sub-national level, availability of a wide range of basic commodities continues to be limited," the report said. Forty percent of communities visited reported that cereals were "not or rarely" available from the GMB and/or market.

The government officially reported the purchase of 1.18 million mt of maize during February to December 2002. Of this total, 700,000 mt was said to have been imported and 480,000 mt was still to come.

The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to reach more than four million people in 49 districts during January 2003. Reaching this target would depend "very largely on the timely arrival of food shipments", the humanitarian report said. It added that WFP indicated that the "current importation process of relief food is cumbersome and time-consuming. There is a significant need to streamline the process for the issuance of import permits for relief food."

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