AN international social justice lobby group, ActionAid has predicted that the numbers of people facing starvation in Zimbabwe could rise to 8,8 million during the 21-day national lockdown imposed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to curb the spread of COVID-19.
BY LORRAINE MUROMO
Before the lockdown, the World Food Programme estimated that about 7,7 million people were already in need of food aid due to recurrent droughts and deteriorating economic situation in the country.
In a report, ActionAid said the starvation was a result of climate-induced droughts, Cyclone Idai, floods and macroeconomic situation, but the outbreak of the virulent virus COVID-19 and subsequent national lockdown would make the situation worse. “More than seven million people in Zimbabwe are facing food shortages after the worst drought the southern African region has seen in 35 years,” the statement read in part.
“This figure is projected to increase to 8,8 million in Zimbabwe as the food crisis deteriorates. The food crisis is as a result of climate-induced droughts, Cyclone Idai, floods and macroeconomic situation, putting the lives of millions of peoples and livestock at risk.”
The report added: “The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Zimbabwe with nine cases and one death as at April 3, 2020 means the vulnerability of people living in poverty will continue to deepen as some of the protection measures cannot apply to communities concerned with putting food on the table for the families.”
According to the report, the food insecurity situation would leave the vulnerable women and children more exposed.
“Small maize producers are likely to miss their harvest in 2020 after a third consecutive year of drought in Zimbabwe as the crisis escalates,” the report added. “Prices of basic food commodities have increased by 22% over the month of January 2020, with maize grain recording the highest percentage of 53% according to the World Food Programme Zimbabwe Monthly Food Security Outlook for January 2020.”
The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in its humanitarian plan for 2020 released last month said seven million people were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance compared to 5,5 million in August 2019.
The World Food Programme has already made an appeal of US$2,2 billion to provide humanitarian assistance to the millions of Zimbabweans facing hunger for the period April 2020 to April 2021. The lockdown, set to end tomorrow, but is likely to be extended, is set to worsen the plight of most impoverished Zimbabweans, who largely depend on an informal economy.