- Zimbabweans in need of urgent food aid as a rsult of poor harvest and a complication of economic and political crisis could be roped into daring hunger unless international community responds to plight of ordinary citizens.
This became apparent today as United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned it was facing a serious funding crisis in providing life-saving aid to over 4 million people in Zimbabwe suffering the effects of a disastrous harvest, and that it has already been forced to cut rations.
“WFP still requires $140 million to fund its operations in Zimbabwe until the end of March 2009 – with a shortfall of approximately 145,000 tons of food, including 110,000 metric tons of cereals and 35,000 metric tons of other food commodities,” the agency said in an update detailing its first month of large-scale distributions in October.
“There is currently no food in the pipeline for distributions in January and February – just when the crisis is reaching its peak and when WFP is aiming to assist over 4 million people each month,” WFP stated.
According to report, in October only, agency distributed 29,000 tons of food to around 2 million vulnerable people across the southern African country and plans to double beneficiaries in November by scaling up its operations to reach almost 4 million hungry people in rural and urban areas. But, statement added it will have to cut back on individual rations so as to provide something for all beneficiaries.
“In the worst affected communities, people are surviving on one meal a day – at most,” WFP said in its report, adding, “...there are widespread reports of people skipping meals for an entire day or eating wild foods such as baobab seeds and amarula fruit. Hungry families are being forced to exchange their precious livestock for buckets of maize.
“Other families have no option but to beg for help or to resort to other desperate measures to survive – selling their few remaining household assets, migrating in search of work and food, pulling children out of school,” report said.
In November, WFP aims to distribute around 46,000 tons to more than 3.3 million people under the vulnerable group feeding (VGF) programme and around 600,000 under the safety net programmes but will not be able to provide every beneficiary with a full food basket.
“WFP needs additional donations urgently since it takes between six and eight weeks to transform a cash contribution into food on a beneficiary’s table,” the agency said.
The November cereal ration has been cut from 12 kilograms to 10 kilograms per person per month and pulse ration from 1.8 kilograms to one kilogram for all VGF beneficiaries and for people receiving take-home rations under safety net programmes. This according to report, will help WFP strech its available resources, though it said most vulnerable may be left to even worst situation.
According to latest UN figures, number of people needing assistance will rise to 5.1 million, or 45 per cent of population, at expected peak of food crisis in early 2009, and WFP plans to provide aid some 4 million every month until end of March -resources permitting.
Poor Zimbabwean citizens have been left with fewer options while country's political bulls continue to fight over who takes charge of what cabinet portfolio. Country's leadership failed again to reach a consensus at weekend SADC Summit on who controls police, with regional leadership urging to true power sharing between Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF and opposition MDC, who have a slight majority in parliament.
Zimbabwe holds world's record hyperinflation, since southern state adopted land redistribution policy that sacked white farmers out of commercial land for distribution amongst its black population. This was a move seem to have driven Zimbabwe to its deep economic dive.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.