By Malcolm Meja
The World Food Programme (WFP) together with the Zimbabwean government yesterday launched a $331-million humanitarian appeal for aid donations to provide food relief for millions of people, as the country face an extreme food crisis.
Prior to the launch, President Mnangagwa declared the 2018-19 El Nino induced drought, a State of National Disaster.
Speaking during the launch of the Revised Zimbabwe Humanitarian Appeal, WFP executive director David Beasley said 2.3 million Zimbabweans were facing extreme poverty and the number could double if the UN community does not get involved.
He added that by early next year 5.5 million would be in a similar position and the country is in a crisis emergency mode marching towards starvation.
Furthermore, he encouraged the leaders of the country to put their political differences aside and work together to avert the food crisis and
“The rate of Zimbabwe’s rise is determined by how we put our political differences and come together for the common good of all the people in this great nation,” he said.
Owing to competing needs the world over, Beasley called on government to make the right decisions that would instill trust and confidence in the donor community.
A former regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe has faced economic downturn for over a decade with perpetual food shortages, a foreign currency crunch, scarcity of basic commodities and high unemployment.
The last agricultural period was particularly bad as the country was hit by an El Nino induced drought.
In addition to food shortages, the appeal also targeted the humanitarian needs of victims of the Cyclone Idai, which left the country devastated earlier this year.
The cyclone, which also hit parts of Malawi and Mozambique, distressed 570 000 Zimbabweans and killed 100.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube last week said the government was feeding hundreds of thousands of people affected by drought both in rural and urban areas, providing grain to 757 000 households since January.
Ahead of the launch yesterday, United Kingdom had already availed an additional 7,9 million pounds in support of the launch.
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols revealed that his country would provide an additional US$45 million in response to the social challenges.
In helping address the country’s immediate humanitarian needs, EU delegation head of development and cooperation Irene Giribaldi said the union stand by the people of Zimbabwe through the crisis and donated an additional US$11 million to help ease the crisis.
“The fund will be used to provide essential foods and inputs from this critical period to the harvest period next year,” she said.
To confront the socio-economic challenges in the country, the UN and partners are supporting the Government to undertake essential reform efforts as outlined in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme.
The Zimbabwe Recovery and Resilience Framework, developed by the Government with technical support from the World Bank, UN and EU will further guide the multi-sectoral and sustainable recovery of the cyclone-affected communities.