Zimbabwe: Food shortage declared a national disaster

By Vongai Makamure Communications Officer
Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, last month declared the food shortage in the country a national disaster. The government mainly blames the famine on the drought.

The President made the declaration on April 30. This makes way for relief agencies to put in place programs for people who are in need of food aid.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Simba Makoni, said the government would need to import between 800 000 and 1.2 million tonnes of maize between now and May next year when the next harvest is expected.

"We are approaching every country in the world that has a surplus," said the minister.

So far, the Government has bought 230 000 tonnes for US$37.5 million. The projected demand until the end of this month is 400 000. The country is, however, experiencing a shortage of maizemeal, even in supermarkets.

The Government had to revise its budget in order to make funds available for importation of maize.

World Food Program (WFP) started a food aid program at the beginning of the year to feed about 750 000 people in the worst affected rural areas of the country.

Only one third of the food to be distributed has so far been delivered because of financial and logistical problems.

Meanwhile, there are fears that the country could face another drought next season due to the El Nino phenomenon.