Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Red Cross to extend food aid into 2010

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The Red Cross is appealing for 38.4 million Swiss francs (USD 33.2 million / € 26.2 million) to continue its emergency food operation until September 2010. The operation, led by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) aims to provide a range of food and livelihoods support for 222,035 people.

Latest estimates(1) suggest that there are currently about 2.8 million food insecure people in Zimbabwe. Whilst this number has significantly reduced from the grim estimates issued in 2008 - largely as a result of a better-than-expected 2009 harvest - there remain serious concerns about the continued impact of hunger on vulnerable communities across Zimbabwe.

"The group that we are targeting (222,035 people) is acutely vulnerable," said Ms Emma Kundishora, ZRCS Secretary General. "This is a group affected by HIV and AIDS. It is a group that is particularly poor, and because of this they are unable to access foreign currency to purchase food."

The ZRCS/IFRC food security operation was first launched in September 2008. Originally planned for nine months, it was extended earlier this year until September 2009 and will now run until September 2010.

Traditional food assistance will be provided to rural communities, whilst food vouchers will be given to beneficiaries living in urban areas. As well as ensuring that vulnerable communities have access to food, Red Cross volunteers will offer longer-term, developmental assistance through the provision of agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers, agricultural training, and by increasing community access to safe water.

"The needs of this group remain broader than just food," said Stephen Omollo, the IFRC's senior representative in Zimbabwe. "Yes, the immediate needs are critical. But unless we take steps to help communities break their dependence on external assistance, then we're only providing a band aid solution."

In the coming months, Red Cross volunteers are set to rehabilitate 500 water points as well as re-establishing 'water point committees': groups made up of community members who will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of these precious assets.

For more information please visit: www.ifrc.org/zimbabwe

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

Stambuli Kim, communications officer (Zimbabwe Red Cross) Tel: + 263 11 517 264
Matthew Cochrane, communications manager (Johannesburg) Tel: + 27 833 955 266
Paul Conneally, head of media (Geneva) Tel: +41 79 308 9809

Notes:

(1) FAO/WFP, Crop and food security assessment mission to Zimbabwe, 22 June 2009.

The Geneva-based International Federation promotes the humanitarian activities of 186 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies among vulnerable people. By coordinating international disaster relief and encouraging development support, it seeks to prevent and alleviate human suffering. The Federation, National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together, constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.