Famine plagues Zimbabwe: WFP

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s food crisis is deepening rapidly, the United Nations World Food Programme warned this week, as President Robert Mugabe claimed in his state-of-the-nation address that farmers did better than what had been estimated.

The grim WFP report comes just a day after Mugabe on Tuesday told a joint sitting of Parliament that government and foreign aid agencies were importing enough aid stocks to feed almost a tenth of the 13 million population that is estimated will eventually need assistance.

Mugabe’s overly optimistic outlook comes amid a sharp rise in hunger-related diseases, children dropping out of school and families resorting to desperate measures such as surviving on wild fruits.

The UN agency said poverty is most prevalent in rural areas, with 76 percent of rural households living on less than $1,25 per day, compared to 38 percent in urban areas. The WFP said it faces a food shortfall in Zimbabwe between now and March 2015 that will hit 1,5million people.

“An estimated 1,5 million people — 16 percent of the population — are projected to be food insecure at the peak of the 2015-16 lean season, the period before the next harvest when domestic food stocks get scarce,” the WFP said in 10 Facts About Hunger In Zimbabwe.

“This represents a 164 percent increase in food insecurity compared to the previous season.”

“Nearly 28 percent of children under the age five in Zimbabwe are stunted, or have heights too low for their age, as a result of chronic malnutrition,” the WFP warned.

“Less than a quarter (17,3 percent) of Zimbabwean children between the ages of 6 and 23 months receive the recommended minimum acceptable diet for adequate nutrition.

“More than half or 56 percent of all children between 6 and 59 months suffer from anaemia,” it added.

The WFP noted that although Zimbabwe has some 4,3 million hectares of arable land, only 2,8 million hectares of land were cultivated during the 2014/15 cropping season due to high fuel costs and climatic shocks among many other factors

Mugabe’s government denies that its controversial land reform programme exacerbated the food problems.

WFP said Zimbabwe has highly volatile food prices, which can increase by more than 30-40 percent in a season. Price instability, especially during the lean season, compromises households’ ability to access adequate food year-round through markets.

But Mugabe said: “In line with our Food and Nutrition policy thrust, government is working closely with private sector and development partners, has adopted a grain importation programme, even though, as we now discover from the volumes of maize sales to the GMB, our farmers did better than what we had estimated.”

Comments (1)

Since Zim has no GMO policy, how is this checked when food is being imported?

Mamvura - 28 August 2015

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