Hunger stalks rural Zimbabwe as food aid dwindles

Published on 16 January 2009

Maxmore Mhazo brightens as he talks about how food handouts from aid agencies have saved lives at his Zimbabwean village, but he is worried by the dwindling size of the portions. "Many of us would be dead were it not for these donations," the 74-year-old retired mine worker said as he and scores of others in Chirumanzu lined up for food packages distributed by British aid agency Oxfam and the World Food Programme (WFP). Each got 10 kg (22 lb) of maize, a pint of cooking oil and a bar of laundry soap, but that was less than they had received in the past three months because of the strain put on donors trying to fight Zimbabwe's multiplying problems. "We are doomed without this programme," Mhazo said at the village in central Zimbabwe. [...] An estimated five million Zimbabweans, about 40 percent of the population, are surviving on food aid. Donors expect that number to grow, but they are also diverting money from food aid to fight a cholera epidemic that has already killed over 2,100 people and their appeals for more funding are not being met in full. [...] The WFP, a U.N. agency, sounded the alarm this week when it announced that it was $65 million short of the $140 million it wanted to raise in an emergency food appeal for Zimbabwe.

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