WFP is preparing to cut the vital food aid rations it currently provides to around 500,000 of the most vulnerable people in Zambia over the coming weeks – because of a critical shortage of funds.
“WFP’s resources are rapidly running out. In March or April we will be forced to stop distributing food to some of the most disadvantaged people in Zambia – such as orphans and patients undergoing treatment for AIDS,” said David Stevenson, WFP’s Country Director in Zambia.
“Tens of thousands of Zambians are now much healthier and more productive thanks to our food aid but without continued assistance, their lives and livelihoods will once again be put at risk,” Stevenson added.
It is staggering that essential food aid for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS might have to be cut
David Stevenson, WFP’s Country Director in Zambia
WFP needs US$29 million to fund its operations across Zambia until the end of 2007. But with food stocks dwindling, WFP has already begun reducing some rations and is planning for a series of massive cuts to its aid operations.
This is happening at a time when widespread flooding across Zambia threatens to increase the number of people in need of food assistance.
While the government has not launched a formal flood appeal, the Vice-President has asked humanitarian agencies to try to assist affected populations under their existing programmes.
A vulnerability assessment mission is currently underway to ascertain the extent of the flooding in the worst-affected areas in the East, West and Northwest and give a clearer picture of the number of people affected and in need of assistance.
“WFP is committed to helping Zambians hit by natural disasters but our resources cannot cover our current programmes let alone the increased demand from flood victims,” said Stevenson.
“Obviously the widespread flooding across the region is further stretching donor funds and assistance for the needy is crucial.”
Without new contributions, WFP will stop distributing nutritious daily meals in schools to over 100,000 orphans and vulnerable children in March, undermining attempts to keep them in school and jeopardizing their nutritional health.
At the same time, WFP will cease providing food to 130,000 people in food-insecure households headed by children, widows or grandparents as well as 28,000 households enrolled in livelihood support activities.
In addition, WFP will halt critical food assistance in April to 6,000 HIV/AIDS patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and their family members as well as 9,500 chronically ill people receiving home-based care, many of whom are also on ART.
Surveys in Zambia indicate that food aid has increased adherence by up to 40 percent and significantly improved the health of food-insecure ART patients – all of whom will be threatened by WFP’s cuts.
"It is staggering that essential food aid for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS might have to be cut just when so much is being done by the Zambian government and others in the fight against the pandemic," said Stevenson.
“With extra funds, WFP can continue to support thousands of ART patients – giving them and their families a chance of a healthier and brighter future.”
WFP is encouraging cash donations to source food from Zambia and within the region.