THE United States Agency for International Development (USAid) will this year disburse about $165 million in aid towards technical assistance, training, and commodities as it moves to alleviate the country’s food security situation.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Speaking to NewsDay USAid country director Stephanie Funk said the fragility of the country’s food security situation was one of the main reasons behind the aid.
“There are many reasons that aid is important right now in Zimbabwe, but one prominent example is the fragility of the country’s food security situation.
Zimbabwe’s poor weather conditions during the 2014-2015 agricultural season, including erratic rainfall and long dry spells, contributed to large-scale crop failure across the country,” Funk said.
“Our support varies by year depending on the areas of greatest need and our plan for giving out aid depends on the sector.”
Last year, USAid disbursed $165 million. Of that amount, $102 million went to health systems and services, emergency assistance ($25 million), food and nutrition security ($24 million), $9, 8 million for advancing a more democratic system of governance, and $4,3 million for economic growth.
She said commodity aid would cover medicine, food rations, and cash transfers to the targeted population.
USAid helps rural Zimbabweans build their economic resilience by increasing incomes and agricultural productivity through the on-going food security activities such as Amalima and the Enhanced Nutrition Stepping Up Resilience and Enterprise, as well as the two Feed the Future activities focused on crop and livestock production.
Since 2010, USAid has assisted and increased the incomes of over 140 000 smallholder farmers. As a result, approximately 6% of the farmers, or 8 500 households, achieved annual incomes exceeding $5 000 – up from an average of $480 per year previously.
With government failing to ensure food security due to the prevailing drought, Funk said USAid has contributed $35 million in emergency assistance reaching 600 000 people since June 2015.
“We are the largest contributor to emergency humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe. USAid, through the World Food Programme (WFP), provides food rations and cash transfers to the most food insecure people throughout the country to meet their immediate food needs during the drought,” Funk said.
“USAid also funds WFP’s Productive Asset Creation activity, which provides food rations or cash transfers in exchange for participation in the creation or rehabilitation of community assets, such as irrigation systems and dams, to improve infrastructure and livelihoods for the future.”
For more than 30 years, USAid has provided the people of Zimbabwe over $2,6 billion to increase food security, support economic growth, improve health systems and services, and to name a few.