Government to Launch Food Aid Program Targeting 2.7 Million Starving Citizens Amidst Rising Food Insecurity

Collaboration with World Food Programme Aims to Alleviate Hunger in Zimbabwe's Most Affected Districts

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

In response to the escalating food crisis, the Zimbabwean government has announced its plans to launch a comprehensive food aid program aimed at assisting 2.7 million food-insecure individuals. The initiative will prioritize the most affected households and is scheduled to continue until March.

During a press conference held in Harare, Social Welfare Minister July Moyo unveiled the government’s strategy, revealing that they were collaborating with the World Food Programme (WFP) to address the urgent humanitarian issue. The distribution efforts will be divided, with the government overseeing 56 districts, while WFP will take charge of four specific districts, namely Buhera, Mangwe, Mwenezi, and Chivi.

Moyo stated, “Therefore, during the peak hunger period, between January and March 2024, it was projected that about 2,715,717 people would be in need of food assistance. The provinces with the highest food insecurity levels are Matabeleland North (42%), down from 58% from the previous year, Mashonaland Central (31%), and Masvingo province (30%).”

He further highlighted the most severely affected districts, which include Binga (62%), Kariba (60%), Mt Darwin (57%), Umguza (54%), Mbire (53%), and Mangwe (50%).

The Zimbabwe Livelihood Assessment Committee Report of 2023 had previously revealed that food insecurity affected 26% of the country’s population, amounting to over 4 million individuals.

Minister Moyo outlined the substantial requirements for the program, stating, “The ministry requires 71,570 metric tonnes of cereal to cater for the three months. A total of ZWL$43.7 billion is required for the three months to cover costs of registration of beneficiaries, grain transportation, and distribution.”

In anticipation of the adverse effects of the El Niño weather phenomenon expected to impact southern Africa and exacerbate drought conditions, the government has taken proactive measures. These measures include the distribution of drought-tolerant crops under the Presidential input scheme, which can help mitigate the effects of drought.

Communities residing in drought-prone areas are encouraged to plant drought-resistant crops, and the government is actively promoting the Pfumvudza/Intwasa concept, which has shown promising results in agricultural resilience.

Additionally, the government has embarked on projects to enhance household food security, such as the revitalization of irrigation schemes, borehole drilling, community gardens, and income-generating initiatives.

As Zimbabwe grapples with food insecurity exacerbated by various factors, including climatic conditions and economic challenges, the collaborative efforts of the government and the World Food Programme represent a vital step towards providing essential support to those in dire need.

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