Red Cross, Japan in $1,4m food programme

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS) has launched a $1,4 million Japanese government supported food voucher programme to mitigate deepening starvation.

The partnership between Japan and ZRCS’ food security programme has entered its third phase since 2010 and is benefiting five provinces namely Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland South, Manicaland and Masvingo.

ZRCS acting secretary-general Lucky Goteka said this is one of the organisation’s interventions to help meet the country’s humanitarian needs.

“As an auxiliary to the government of Zimbabwe, the ZRCS has got a role to play in alleviating human suffering, hunger included. It is my hope that this particular project will achieve the expected success and impact that all the previous Red Cross humanitarian programmes across Zimbabwe have achieved,” Goteka said.

The current phase of the project is targeting 12 000 households and of these, 5 000 are urban while 7 000 are rural. Beneficiary districts for the project include among others Bindura, Mt Darwin, Kadoma, Hurungwe, Gwanda and Matobo, Chimanimani, Buhera and Mutare as well as Chivi and Mwenezi.

The food voucher component of the project sees beneficiaries getting a $20 grocery package from selected OK Zimbabwe shops.

According to ZRCS, the prevailing situation in Zimbabwe, food insecurity for the 2012-2013 consumption years is comparatively worse than in the last three consumption years.

“The total cereal production for the 2011-2012 season was 33 percent lower than that of the 2010-2011 season. During the peak hunger period between January 2012 and March 2013, approximately 19 percent of Zimbabwe’s rural population will be in need of food assistance according to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment report released in June 2012,” said Goteka.

“They will also receive agriculture inputs support for gardens (vegetable seeds and fertilisers) as well as fencing material support and gardening tools to increase yields,” Goteka said.

The project will also have a water and sanitation programme aimed at borehole rehabilitation in Matobo district of Matabeleland South targeting 60 boreholes, water troughs rehabilitation and construction of latrines at schools and clinics in Gwanda District.

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