Freedom Through Food In Zimbabwe
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Published on 11 July 2014

Robson Madoka and his wife receive electronic vouchers for food assistance

Copyright: WFP/Sophia Robele

When you’re in good health and have ready access to food, you tend not to give it much thought. But when you don’t, then you realize you’re in trouble – and the worry can consume you. Through WFP’s Health and Nutrition programme, thousands of families are once again able to start living without constantly worrying about these basics.

In a country where 72 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and nearly 15 percent of adults live with HIV, attaining stable employment and food security presents a real challenge for many people.

Diagnosed with HIV years ago, Robson Madoka understands this all too well. His status cast a dark cloud over every aspect of his life – affecting not only him but his entire family.

“I became too weak to pick vegetables from our garden or to find casual labour like I used to,” explains Robson. “Our two sons had to drop out of school because we couldn’t afford to pay the fees.”

The anti-retroviral treatment he was receiving was not as effective as might have been hoped. This was mainly because of Robson’s poor diet. Adequate nutrition is essential for successful treatment and the first line of defense in fighting the disease.

Complete savior

Things took a turn for the better when he signed up for WFP’s Health and Nutrition programme at the Epworth Poly-Clinic in Harare. Robson began receiving monthly allotments of nutritional supplements and electronic vouchers to purchase staple foods for himself and his family, as well as US$5 cash for other purchases.

“I really should have died a long time ago were it not for this support,” says Robson. “WFP has been a complete saviour for me and my family.”

The programme’s electronic voucher system, using mobile phones, allows Robson to receive this support without exposing himself to the stigma that might come from standing in line to receive food in front of other health clinic clients.

Funding constraints

As the only safety net for moderately malnourished adults in Zimbabwe, WFP’s programme also strives to incorporate sustainable solutions. Through its collaboration with NGO partner ADRA, WFP integrates able-bodied former recipients of food assistance into self-sufficient livelihood projects such as community gardens.

Thanks to the valuable support of countries such as Switzerland, WFP’s assistance allows people to overcome the downward spiral linked to poverty, poor health, and food insecurity. For the first time in eight years, however, rations for health and nutrition activities have had to be reduced as a result of funding constraints. To ensure that sufficient support is available to those who are most in need, additional funding is urgently required.

WFP Offices
About the author

Sophia Robele

Sophia Robele is a Princeton in