Zimbabwe, 11 November 2008 - WFP distributed 29,000 tons of food to around 2 million vulnerable people across Zimbabwe in October – the first month of large-scale distributions.
The 2 million beneficiaries breakdown as follows:
- Around 1.4 million beneficiaries living in rural areas worst affected by this year’s disastrous harvest received life-saving relief rations during October under WFP’s vulnerable group feeding (VGF) programme.
- An additional 570,000 chronically vulnerable people were assisted under WFP’s separate safety net programmes.
• With the food crisis worsening, WFP is planning to double its beneficiaries in November by scaling up its operations to reach almost 4 million hungry people in rural and urban areas across the country.
• In November, WFP is aiming to distribute around 46,000 tons of food to more than 3.3 million people under VGF and around 600,000 under the safety net programmes.
• But WFP will not be able to provide every beneficiary in November with a full food basket due to a serious funding crisis.
• WFP still requires US$140 million to fund its operations in Zimbabwe until the end of March 2009 – with a shortfall of approximately 145,000 tons of food, including 110,000 mt of cereals and 35,000 mt of other food commodities.
• There is currently no food in the pipeline for distributions in January and February – just when the crisis is reaching its peak and when WFP is aiming to assist over 4 million people each month.
• WFP needs additional donations urgently since it takes between 6-8 weeks to transform a cash contribution into food on a beneficiary’s table.
• Faced with such a serious shortfall, WFP has been forced to cut rations in November in order to provide some assistance to all of its targeted beneficiaries.
• The cereal ration has been cut from 12kg to 10kg per person per month and the pulse ration from 1.8kg to 1kg per person per month for all VGF beneficiaries and for people receiving take-home rations under the safety net programmes.
• These cuts will allow WFP to stretch its available resources as far as possible but they will leave greater numbers more malnourished and more susceptible to disease.
• According to the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, the number of people in need of assistance will to rise 5.1 million – or 45 percent of the population – at the peak of the crisis in early 2009.
• WFP is planning to provide assistance to around 4 million people every month until the end of March 2009 – as long as there are sufficient resources.
• A group of 3-US sponsored NGOs – known as C-SAFE – is also intending to provide free, humanitarian food assistance to around 1 million people at the peak of the crisis.
• In the worst affected communities, people are surviving on one meal a day – at most.
• There are widespread reports of people skipping meals for an entire day or eating wild foods such as baobab seeds and amarula fruit. Hungry families are being forced to exchange their precious livestock for buckets of maize.
• Other families have no option but to beg for help or to resort to other desperate measures to survive – selling their few remaining household assets, migrating in search of work and food, pulling children out of school etc.