WFP expands emergency operations in Zimbabwe as drought, economic hardship plunge millions into hunger
04-12-2019 07:50:00 | by: Pie Kamau | hits: 2805 | Tags:
The World Food Program (WFP) is rapidly expanding an already sizeable emergency operation in Zimbabwe where drought, flooding and macro-economic meltdown have plunged 7.7 million people - half the population into severe hunger.
Funds are required immediately if WFP is to meet the growing needs of the hardest hit Zimbabweans. It plans to more than double the number of people it is helping by January to 4.1 million, providing life-saving rations of cereal, pulses and vegetable oil and a protective nutrition ration for children under 5 years of age.
"We're deep into a vicious cycle or sky-rock meeting malnutrition that's hard for women and children hard to break," said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. "With poor rains forecast yet again in the run-up to the main harvest in April, the scale of hunger in the country is going to get worse before it gets better."
Zimbabwe's hunger crisis - the worst for more than a decade - is part of an unprecedented climate-driven disaster gripping southern Africa. Temperatures in the region are rising at more than twice the average global rate and ever more erratic rainy seasons are hitting the country's subsistence farmers hard.
The crisis is being exacerbated by a direct shortage of foreign currency, runaway inflation, mounting unemployment, lack of fuel, prolonged power outages and large-scale livestock losses, afflicting urban residents and rural villagers alike.
WFP's planned scale-up is a huge logistical undertaking, with the limited availability of Zimbabwean dollars and surging prices for basics, a near-wholesale switch from cash assistance to food distributions.
It envisages sourcing, purchasing and delivery to the land-locked country or more than 240,000 metric tons or commodities through June, a challenge all the more daunting because drought and flooding have eroded food supplies across much of Africa. An estimated US $ 293 million is required for WFP's emergency response with less than 30 percent or that sum secured.
"We must not let our immediate focus on emergency aid distract us from investing in resilience programs that will help chronically hungry people with ever-more severe impacts or erratic weather," Beasley said. "We urge the international community to step up funding to address the root causes or long-term hunger in Zimbabwe."