Hunger in the news

11 March 2009

Production at the handful of functioning farms remaining in Zimbabwe has ground to a halt, with ongoing farm invasions and threats of evictions forcing farmers to abandon their crops. A fresh wave of farm invasions have seen more than 80 farms seized since last month and has left more than 100 farmers facing possible prosecution. [...] Zimbabweans are battling a crippling countrywide food shortage that has left more than seventy percent of the population in critical need of international food aid. The UN’s World Food Programme has in turn been forced to cut its aid rations to cater for the overwhelming number of starving people in Zimbabwe – a country that was once regarded as the breadbasket of Africa.

5 March 2009

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced Thursday that it would provide 45,000 tonnes of emergence food aid to 5.2 million Zimbabweans in March but said recipients would continue to get reduced rations to meet the high demand. The UN agency said 4.6 million or nearly 90 percent of the recipients would be from vulnerable groups such as young children and those suffering from diseases like HIV and AIDS.

1 March 2009

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe told followers at his lavish birthday party to respect the new power-sharing government but vowed to press on with seizures of white farms. The extravagant celebrations were held against a backdrop of economic ruin and came weeks after the veteran leader joined a unity government with long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai. [...] Land reforms have been blamed for the food crisis in the former grain exporter as many of the beneficiaries lack both the skills and means to farm. [...] The country is [...] battling severe food shortages amid hyperinflation which has rendered the Zimbabwean dollar useless. The World Food Programme reported last month that the number of people without food was estimated at 6.9 million -- more than half the population.

27 February 2009

THE ARCHBISHOPS of Canterbury and York have launched an appeal for money to help Anglican dioceses and parishes in Zimbabwe distribute food and medical aid. Half the population was now at risk of starvation, and the human itarian crisis was “at an appalling level”, Dr Williams said. The Archbishops’ joint appeal from Lambeth Palace was broadcast on the BBC News on Ash Wednes day, already designated by the Prim ates of the Anglican Communion as a day of prayer and fasting for Zimbabwe. Deaths from cholera had climbed to almost 4000 in the past couple of weeks, Dr Williams said. [...] The appeal comes as many donor countries have reduced their aid because of the political deal that has been struck. The World Food Pro gramme has consequently had to cut back its distribution to Zimbabwe, even though an estimated seven million people are at risk of starva tion. Donors wanted to see the results of the new political arrange ments before committing them selves, the Archbishops suggested.

27 February 2009

A United Nations interagency humanitarian mission to Zimbabwe has pledged to ensure that the country's humanitarian crisis is contained. Addressing reporters in Johannesburg on Thursday, UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg said the country's humanitarian crisis remained grave. [...] According to the Deputy Regional Representative from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Timo Pakkala, the programme has spent more than $240 million to support at least seven million vulnerable people as well as curtail food shortage.

26 February 2009

The Russian Federation has donated a planeload of cooking oil and wheat flour worth 1 million U.S. dollars to Zimbabwe through the United Nations' World Food Program, local media reported on Thursday. Russia also pledged to provide a further 2 million dollars worth of food aid in due course, according to Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Sergey Kryukov.

26 February 2009

The United Nations inter-agency humanitarian mission that concluded its work in Zimbabwe this week has called for Harare and the international community to bolster efforts to end a relentless cholera epidemic and stave off hunger threatening much of the population. [...] Mission chief Catherine Bragg, U.N. assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy emergency relief coordinator, reiterated her appeal in a news conference Thursday in Johannesburg after summarizing her team's assessment Wednesday in Harare. [...] Elsewhere, the World Food Program said it is facing a funding shortfall of US$140 million in its emergency food distribution program for Zimbabwe. Organization spokeswoman Claudia Altorio told reporter Brenda Moyo that it is too early to predict the outcome of the 2009 harvest, but given the lack of inputs such as seed and fertilizer the agency is planning to keep providing food assistance up to 2010.

25 February 2009

A top UN humanitarian official warned Wednesday that Zimbabwe still faces a grave crisis, with major challenges in averting hunger and stopping a cholera epidemic that has killed 3,800 people. Catherine Bragg, assistant secretary general for humanitarian affairs, said that many parts of Zimbabwe have yet to receive any help in fighting cholera, which has hit more than 83,000 people since August. "The humanitarian situation remains grave. Despite efforts to control cholera, there are many places which are yet to be visited," she told reporters at the end of a five-day mission. She also said that the country faces serious threats from hunger, after the UN's World Food Programme reported last month that the number of people without food was estimated at 6.9 million -- more than half the population.

25 February 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has called on Anglicans to "pray, fast and give" to highlight Zimbabwe's slide toward starvation. Dr Williams and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, have chosen the growing crisis in Zimbabwe for their first joint appeal for funds. They said people should give now rather than wait for a political solution. [...] Despite Zimbabwe's desperate plight, the UN's World Food Programme recently reported that donor countries had actually reduced the amount they were giving. The UN said donors were apparently waiting to see what would result from the power-sharing deal between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai before committing themselves to further funding.

24 February 2009

Moses Nkomo, a 72-year-old grandfather of 10, cannot imagine how he would have survived without food handouts from relief agencies in Zimbabwe, where more than half the population faces hunger. “I have been surviving on handouts since November last year,” said Nkomo, a resident in Makokoba, one of the oldest and poorest sections of the country’s second city of Bulawayo, while waiting to receive food hampers from the aid group Oxfam. [...] The UN’s World Food Programme estimated in June that about five million people would need aid. Last month they revised the estimate to 6.9 million. Nkomo is one of 4,000 residents in his neighbourhood registered to receive a food basket that includes ground soya, the staple cornmeal, salt and peanut butter. Only a lucky 280 receive the handouts. In past years, rural families bore the brunt of food shortages but now townsfolk are feeling the pinch, as many have no means of livelihood in a country with unemployment at 94 percent.