US extends $20m to boost drought response

HARARE - The United States offered a larger than expected package of aid to Zimbabwe, saying it was providing $20 million to boost the El-Nino-induced drought response and help get the shattered economy back on its feet.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said this contribution brings the total US funding for drought relief since June 2015 to $55 million.

This comes as Zimbabwe urged international donors  to offer aid promptly for relief operations to support 2,8 million drought-affected people critically short of food, and said it was committed to allocating as much of its own funds as necessary.

The relief operation by the government, World Food Programme (WFP) and charities need $355 million for the period April 2016, to March 2017 to address the immediate needs of 2,8 million drought-affected people — 30 percent of the total rural population.

“The United States is committed to support the people of Zimbabwe during these difficult times,” Usaid Zimbabwe mission director Stephanie Funk said. 

“We are committed to work with WFP to meet the immediate food needs of vulnerable Zimbabweans, reduce suffering, and ensure families cope with the negative effects of the drought.”

The $20 million will support the WFP’s Lean Season Assistance programme, which provides monthly targeted food rations or cash transfers for food insecure people in the hardest hit districts of Zimbabwe.

“The UN is grateful to the United States for answering our call for additional funding to scale up life-saving activities to reach the growing number of food insecure individuals,” UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative Bishow Parajuli said. 

“These funds will help increase our relief efforts to reach those most affected by the drought and other vulnerable groups.”

WFP country director Eddie Rowe said: “The generous additional $20 million contribution from Usaid will allow WFP to continue food assistance for 450 000 people in 12 districts over the next six months.”

This comes as the eroded productive capacity of vulnerable farming households and  increased food prices have resulted in higher rates of malnutrition and school absenteeism from school due to hunger, especially in the most food insecure districts. 

Nationally, 100 000 children under the age of five are estimated to be acutely malnourished.

The severely acute malnutrition rate is currently 2,1 percent, up from 1,5 percent the previous year, and likely to increase later in 2016.

The dire food insecurity situation has not spared livestock, with

22 000 deaths reported nationwide, according to the UN. 

The drought has also negatively impacted water supplies, with 81 percent of households reporting that water is unavailable for agricultural purposes such as irrigation schemes and gardens.

In addition to providing food assistance, USaid supports WFP’s Productive Asset Creation programme, which provides monthly food rations or cash transfers to vulnerable Zimbabweans in exchange for labour on community assets such as irrigation schemes and small-scale dams. 

Usaid said this assistance improves rural infrastructure while at the same time it meets the immediate food needs of people struggling during the drought. 

Additionally, Usaid has provided $5 million to World Vision and Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) to respond to the drought across 10 districts in Manicaland, Masvingo, and Matabeleland North and South provinces.

Comments (1)

Take out your sanctions-ZIDERA and we wont need your feed aid

Anti-America - 21 April 2016

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