US gives $4m more to fight famine

HARARE - The United States will give an additional $4 million in aid for fighting famine in Zimbabwe, with the funding coming from President Donald Trump’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar).

The new money — which comes on top of US assistance was announced on Monday — and would bring total US humanitarian aid to the drought-hit country to more than $131 million since June 2015.

With millions of people affected by the worst drought in decades in Zimbabwe, the US government is moving to end the cycle of drought and famine across Zimbabwe by assisting two million people.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said up to five million people, half of Zimbabwe’s drought-stricken rural population, will need aid by next March.

The famine is the most severe humanitarian emergency today and one of the worst that Zimbabwe has seen in several decades. Farmers across Zimbabwe have witnessed de-stocking of cattle and crops wilting and fear more pain as the year progresses.

The US embassy in Harare said yesterday the funding activities will be implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

US Agency for International Development (USAid) is overseeing the implementation, and its support to WFP will expand its nutrition activities at health clinics across Harare, Bulawayo, and Mutasa district, with a focus on providing food assistance and nutrition rehabilitation for malnourished individuals living with HIV and TB.

The US embassy said with this funding, WFP will scale up its assistance from the current 2 348 beneficiaries to over 27 000 individuals in the coming months.

USAid’s funding to Unicef will also expand its water, sanitation, and hygiene activities in 10 drought-affected districts with high HIV prevalence.

Nearly 1,4 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe, with an estimated 64 000 new infections in 2015 and a mother-to-child HIV transmission rate of 6,7 percent, according to aid agencies.

These activities will target 350 000 beneficiaries and aim to reduce morbidity and mortality from diarrheal diseases. In rural areas, finding clean water has become difficult as water sources dry up. Women and children are bearing the worst brunt of the crisis.

“These additional resources will complement $127 million in emergency drought assistance which has been provided by the American people since the onset of the drought,” USAid Zimbabwe mission director Stephanie Funk said.

WFP country representative Eddie Rowe said: “Food security is especially critical for people living with HIV. These resources will ensure that people living with HIV can access the food and nutrients they need to adhere to treatment and live healthy, productive lives.”

Unicef country representative Mohamed Ag Ayoya said the rainy season has increased the risk of diarrheal diseases as many families, including people living with HIV, still do not have access to safe water and sanitation.

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