More than a million Zimbabweans facing food struggle, UN agency warns

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More than one million Zimbabweans will struggle for food between now and March,
according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which has already
begun assisting the most vulnerable but needs $42 million to fund its activities
in the Southern African nation.

Failed harvests and the economic downturn have led to a situation where around
12 per cent of the rural population will not have the means to feed themselves
adequately during what is known as the lean season.

This is despite improvements in the food security situation in recent years, the
agency noted in a news release issued today.

Most of the vulnerable households are located in the southern and western
regions, which are very susceptible to dry spells.

“Agricultural production in these regions was once again poor this season,”
said WFP Country Director Felix Bamezon. “The situation is made worse by the economic
downturn and we’re already seeing families resorting to skipping meals and
reducing portion sizes.”

Most at risk are low-income families hit by failed harvests, and households with
orphans and vulnerable children.

“Although food is generally available in many rural areas, it is too expensive
for those with limited resources,” WFP said.

The agency and its partners have started providing targeted assistance to bridge
the lean season gap through in-kind food distributions, cash transfers and food
vouchers.

WFP has secured funds to launch the response, but needs additional funds to keep
it going. Its Health & Nutrition Programme, geared towards malnourished,
chronically-ill people on anti-retroviral treatment and their households, is
also facing a funding shortfall.

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