European Commission allocates US$12 million Zimbabwean aid

THE European Commission (EC) yesterday allocated US$12 million (euro 9 million) to safeguard access to food for vulnerable people affected by the breakdown of essential services in Zimbabwe.

The funds will be channelled through the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department under the direct responsibility of Commissioner Karel De Gucht. De Gucht, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: “Though the food security situation has started to improve slightly, Zimbabwe continues to face a protracted emergency. Urban populations are particularly vulnerable due to lack of access to land. It is therefore crucial in this period that ongoing food security interventions are reinforced and consolidated in order to reach the populations in need.”
The funds would be used to provide short-term food security and livelihood support. They are part of the Short-Term support Strategy for an amount of euro 120 million (US$156 million) to be implemented by the European Commission following the visit of Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his governmental delegation to Brussels on June 18 2009.
The food supply and availability has improved for the 2009/2010 season thanks to a good harvest, the dollarisation of the economy and the liberalisation of the cereals market.
The money from the EC came a few days after a joint Zimbabwe government and United Nations food assessment revealed that the southern African nation will have a cereal deficit of 180 000 tonnes between now and 2010.
The United Nations office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a report said Zimbabwe would not have enough food to feed its 12,5 million people and described the situation as “acute”.
“Even with commercial imports, there will be a 180 000 tonnes cereal deficit for 2009-2010,” OCHA said. “According to an assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and Zimbabwean government, only 1,4 million tons of cereal will be available domestically, compared to the more than two million needed.” Even assuming that 500 000 tonnes would be imported, there will still be a significant gap.
The FAO-WFP assessment found that in spite of increased agricultural production this year, with the maize crop estimated to have more than doubled, high food insecurity persists in Zimbabwe.
This year’s abundant rainfall resulted in the amount of maize harvested — 1,14 metric tonnes — recording a 130 percent increase over 2008. But the study warned that this winter’s wheat harvest is only expected to yield 12 000 tonnes, the lowest ever, due to the high cost of fertilisers and seeds, farmers’ lack of funds and the unreliable electricity supply for irrigation.
“Some 600 000 households will also be receiving agricultural help — supplied by non-governmental organisations and funded by 10 donors — in the form of seeds, legumes and fertiliser,” OCHA said.
FAO suggested that additional resources be channelled into providing top-dressing fertiliser, which is needed later than at seed planting, but cautioned that it must reach farmers before the end of November. — Staff Writer.

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