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WFP Spokesperson for southern Africa
Richard Lee is southern African spokesperson for WFP. He has worked for WFP for the past seven years in southern Africa, Sudan, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
Thousands of cholera patients and their caregivers in treatment centres across Zimbabwe are now benefiting from WFP food, which helps them fight the deadly disease.
“Food assistance is of great importance because it means a quicker recovery,” says Dr. George Mapiya, a district medical officer in the northern district of Mt Darwin, where hunger and malnutrition are rife. View photo gallery
The meals, which are cooked in the treatment centres, consist of the staple maize porridge and beans. Dr Mapiya says he believes that the WFP food provided to the caregivers helps to motivate them to continue their difficult work.
There is no end in sight to the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, which has already claimed over 3,500 lives and infected tens of thousands more.
Meanwhile, the food crisis in Zimbabwe has reached its peak. View video
WFP is aiming to provide monthly relief rations to 5.1 million of the most vulnerable people in both February and March – the two hardest and hungriest months before the annual maize harvest starts in April. View photo gallery
WFP and its NGO partners have so far managed to prevent the crisis from becoming a disaster thanks to the generosity of donors around the world. USA remains by far the largest donor to WFP’s activities in Zimbabwe.
WFP has been forced to reduce the cereal ration to ensure that every beneficiary receives some assistance. But each bag will still help a hungry family to survive this peak crisis period. See Facts & Figures
“My children were suffering from hunger and could not go to school because there was nothing to eat at home,” said Tamburai Chifamba, a mother of five. “But with this food, my children are getting healthy.”
A team of senior UN officials, including WFP's Deputy Regional Director, are in Zimbabwe this week to assess the UN response to the cholera epidemic and food shortages.