CLOSE to seven million people in Zimbabwe will need food aid in February and March, the World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday.
In a statement the WFP said it was aiming to feed 5,1 million people in February while a group of US-sponsored aid organisations plans to assist 1,8 million more people in the country.
â€œThe overall total for people in need of assistance in February and March is around seven million,â€ the WFP said.
The countryâ€™s economic meltdown has been worsened by a cholera outbreak across the country which has killed over 3 000 people and infected plus 50 000 â€“â€“ the worst African death toll from cholera in 15 years.
The normally preventable disease has spread as rival political parties struggle to implement a power-sharing agreement reached in September and seen as a chance to ease the humanitarian crisis and save the faltering economy.
Sadc leaders decided at a summit on Tuesday that a unity government should be formed next month. Fears of the cholera spreading in Zimbabwe have stepped up pressure on rival parties to end the political uncertainty.
World Health Organisation figures dated January 28 showed an increase of 67 deaths and 1 291 new infections.
The outbreak has hit the entire country, leading to a high overall case-fatality rate of more than 5%.
Meanwhile, the US Agency for International Development (USAid) yesterday said it would continue to provide assistance to the people of Zimbabwe in the aftermath of a widespread cholera outbreak that began in August last year.
â€œUSAid is consigning nearly 440 000 bars of soap â€“â€“ valued at nearly US$365 000 â€“â€“ to Unicef, which will provide it to humanitarian organisations to distribute as part of hygiene education programmes in areas most affected by the cholera outbreak.
To date, USAid has pledged $6,8 million in emergency assistance for the cholera outbreak.
The agencyâ€™s assistance is supporting the provision of emergency relief supplies for affected people, humanitarian coordination and information management, and water, sanitation, hygiene and health interventions. â€”Â Reuters and Staff Writer.