HARARE – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed US$25 million to support vulnerable families suffering the effects of drought and a poor harvest in Zimbabwe. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) will use this contribution, along with additional donor funding, to support a relief operation for 1.8 million of the most food-insecure people during the “lean season” between October and March 2014, when the next harvest is due.
Hunger is at a four-year high in Zimbabwe with one quarter of the rural population (2.2 million people) expected to experience food shortages in the early months of next year. This is one third more people requiring food support than during the peak of the last lean season, according to the 2013 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee rural livelihoods report, led by the Government with support from the UN and other partners.
The current high levels of food insecurity are being attributed to various factors including adverse weather, the unavailability or high cost of agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilisers and projected high cereal prices.
“This generous contribution from the United States will assist around 500,000 especially vulnerable people who harvested little, have few income options, and are struggling to buy food as prices continue to rise,” said WFP Country Director Sory Ouane. “USAID is the largest donor to WFP food assistance activities in Zimbabwe and their unwavering support enables us to reach those who are most in need.”
The contribution will be used to buy cereals, oil and pulses from the region, as well as providing for cash transfers in areas where food is available in local markets, allowing people more flexibility and individual choice. Part of the contribution is an in-kind donation of cereals, oil and pulses from the United States of America.
“U.S. Government contributions for humanitarian food needs underline our continued support for the people of Zimbabwe,” said USAID Mission Director in Zimbabwe Melissa Williams.
Since 2002, the United States has contributed more than US$1.1 billion to humanitarian operations in Zimbabwe.
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WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.
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