Zim Food Situation More Challenging Than Ever- WFP

More than 4.2 million people are likely to face severe hunger by the end of the year as the effects of climate change and COVID-19 continue to take a toll on Zimbabwe with the World Food Program (WFP) describing the situation as more challenging than ever.

According to recent estimates by the World Food Program (WFP) Zimbabwe, the dilapidating effects of the current global pandemic and an already existing drought will push more people to be food insecure by the end of the year and the United Nations agency has since extended its lean season assistance programme beyond April (to May and June) when it would normally end, because of the prolonged drought and economic situation most families in Zimbabwe were already facing.

Like the rest of the world, Zimbabwe is grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 which has seen the government channelling more funds towards fighting the pandemic and less being put for food sustenance.

WFP estimates 3.7 million people or 38% of the rural population to be food insecure from now until September 2020, rising to 5.3 million, more than half the entire rural population by the end of the year.

A woman receives food aid in Domboshawa, Zimbabwe during the COVID-19 pandemic (Lovejoy Mutongwiza/263Chat)

“Of these, between three and 3.3 million people would be facing what is we categorize as “crisis” or “emergency” food security situation. WFP aims to support those facing acute food insecurity – we are planning to reach 2.2 million this month and we will continue advocating for the funds to reach 4.2 million by the official start of the lean season in October,” WFP Zimbabwe Acting Country Director and Representative Niels Balzer told 263Chat.

Zimbabwe has been facing acute food shortage for a while and recent droughts have made the situation worse together with the poor performance of the economy.

“As Zimbabwe grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis, the impacts of cumulative drought and now the COVID-19 pandemic on top of it all – the situation is more challenging than ever. As we enter the Decade of Action while adapting to the “new normal” – we perhaps have the toughest year ahead in Zimbabwe and we must rise to the challenge.

To further worsen the situation, Balzer added that in the urban areas of the country, the situation will also worsen as the number food insecure Zimbabweans living in urban areas will have increased, from 2.2 million to 3.3 million,” Balzer further stated.

According to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, may go hungry in 2020 as a result of the economic recession triggered by COVID-19.

In response to the acute situation, WFP says it has adopted a ‘no regrets’ and a ‘do no harm’ approach to the COVID-19 pandemic; therefore, it is committed to ensuring that its programmes and modalities do not pose an increased risk of infection

“Even in the face of COVID-19, WFP has adopted innovative measures to continue providing essential food assistance and its resilience and self-reliance activities, while ensuring the continued safety of its staff, partners, stakeholders and beneficiaries,” Balzer added.

WFP is planning to reach 192,865 new food insecure people living in urban areas, combined with those we are currently assisting – this will mean we reach a total of 292,865 beneficiaries by the end of August.

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