Zimbabwe desperate for food, says WFP

Tendai Mukandi



ZIMBABWE is in desperate need of food aid as a majority of its poor cannot feed themselves due to runaway inflation.


Zimbab

we is grouped along with Zambia and Malawi among countries needing urgent food assistance, according to the World Food Programme.


Speaking at the handover of 30 million euros (US$37,7 million) in Johannesburg this week, WFP’s acting regional director, Thomas Yanga, said Zimbabwe’s inflation was denying the poor access to food. The money was donated by the European Commission.


“Zimbabwe’s high inflation rate makes it increasingly difficult for the poorest to buy any food at all, even when it is available on the market,” Yanga said.


“Many people have already sold everything they have.”


Zimbabwe got the biggest portion of the donation of 25 million euro ahead of Malawi and Zambia.


“Twenty-five million euro (US$31,4 million) has gone towards maintaining urgent food assistance over the next quarter to 800 000 of the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe, including children threatened with malnourishment and patients receiving anti-retroviral therapy,” the WFP said in a statement. Malawi was allocated 3 million euros (US$3,8 million) while Zambia got two million euros (US$2,5 million).


The WFP is the largest humanitarian agency providing food assistance to an average 90 million people worldwide to meet their nutritional needs each year, including 58 million hungry children in at least 80 of the world’s poorest countries.


The donation is part of the EC’s 105 million euro donation towards WFP operations worldwide for 2006.


Although preliminary reports released last month indicated that the region as a whole had a better 2005/2006 harvest, Yanga said people would still go hungry this year if they were not given food assistance. He cited the outbreak of major diseases like HIV/Aids and chronic poverty as some of the factors affecting productivity.


“Patients being treated for HIV/Aids or tuberculosis cannot farm or hold a job when they are at their weakest. Similarly, children who are orphaned or caring for sick parents need help to put food on the table.

And mothers with young children need assistance to maintain healthy diets during their most critical development stage,” Yanga said.

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