Over five million people in Zimbabwe will require food aid by March 2017, as the southern African country faces its worst drought in two decades, a United Nations (UN) report has revealed.
By Hazel Ndebele
Currently, there are four million people in the country receiving food assistance.
The El Nino-induced drought has ravaged most rural communities where nearly 70% of the country’s population lives, with the demand for food aid increasing each day following poor grain output in the previous season.
The drought has decimated livestock in most areas and has led to a serious surge in food insecurity. In total, 40 million people across the southern African region and Zimbabwe have been affected by the drought.
Addressing delegates at the 4th national multi-stakeholders’ consultative meeting jointly convened by the Office of the President and Cabinet and the UN System in Zimbabwe yesterday in the capital, the UN Resident Co-ordinator Bishow Parajuli said there was inadequate funding for the drought.
“As we approach the peak hunger period of the lean season, inadequate funding to the humanitarian response plan will not only curtail the ongoing relief efforts to increase assistance to the most vulnerable in the rural settlements and scale-up assistance in urban areas but also risks reversing the gains made in the development and humanitarian areas thus far,” he said.
Although Zimbabwe eventually declared the drought a national disaster in February, the delay affected the response by the international relief agencies, who had already made commitments in countries that declared early.
The Humanitarian Response Plan of April 2016-March 2017 shows that US$212 million of the US$352 million being sought under the plan has been committed, leaving a funding gap of US$140 million.
The committed financial and in kind relief support has allowed the UN and non-governmental organisations to reach approximately 1,7 million vulnerable people in over 42 districts with food, cash, agricultural inputs and other life-saving relief assistance.
Contributions have been received from the United States Agency for International Development, British Department for International Development, European Union, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, China, India, Brazil, Ireland and Denmark.