HARARE - An estimated three million Zimbabweans — 23 percent of the country’s population — is food insecure in the wake of one of the worst droughts to ever hit Zimbabwe, a government official has said.
Zimbabwe Food and Nutrition Council director George Kembo told delegates at the signing ceremony of a $10 million donation from the US government for hunger alleviation on Thursday that at the end of January, Zimbabwe had received less than 75 percent of the expected rainfall.
“The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Zimvac) had initially said that about 1,5 million would be food insecure, a figure that rose to 2,8 million then the current three million.
“After all the preliminary work has been done, we do not expect the figure to rise significantly from this,” Kembo said.
At the event, the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Harry Thomas, announced an additional $10 million in response to the food security situation in Zimbabwe.
The country has already declared a drought emergency and is now appealing to the international donor community to offer aid promptly for relief operations in order to avert the crisis.
The $10 million, provided through the US Agency for International Development (USAid), brings the total US funding for drought relief since June 2015 to $35 million, ensuring 600 000 rural Zimbabweans have adequate food supplies to cope with the drought.
Of this, $10 million contribution, $5 million will be allocated to Word Food Programme (WFP) to enable it to provide food rations and cash transfers for the purchase of food to the most vulnerable Zimbabweans.
Guided by the results of the Zimvac Rural Livelihood Assessment, WFP will target three additional districts — Chipinge, Mangwe, and Uzuma Maramba Pfungwe — and scale up operations within the eight districts currently receiving assistance — Zvishavane, Mudzi, Hwange, Binga, Chiredzi, Mwenezi, Kariba, and Mbire — to reach an increasingly food insecure population.
Poor weather conditions in Zimbabwe, including erratic rainfall and long dry spells, have contributed to large-scale crop failure and livestock deaths across the country.
The country was recently ranked number 18 in the top 20 countries most prone to hunger in 2016 by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in its Global Hunger Index (GHI).
Zimbabwe, which has been receiving unreliable rainfall in the past two years, will according to the GHI see “starvation-ranking hunger” in 2016.
Current weather patterns are being influenced by the El Nino phenomenon, a climatic pattern that occurs above the Pacific Ocean every five years and causes extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods in many regions of the world.