UK advances US$5,4m food assistance

BY STAFF REPORTER

MORE than 100 000 food-insecure people in the urban areas will benefit from the United Kingdom’s pledge of £4 million (US$5,4 million) to help vulnerable families.

Recent data revealed that nearly half of Zimbabwe’s population (5,6 million people) might be pushed into hunger by March this year, which is the peak season.
The food-insecure people include roughly one-third of the country’s rural population, which is expected to face “crisis” or “emergency” levels of hunger, as well as 2,2 million hungry urban dwellers.

To counter this, the Zimbabwe development director for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Cate Turton, said Zimbabwe would receive £4 million to help support 110 000 food-insecure people living in eight urban areas.

She said those that were highly vulnerable include a large

percentage of the elderly, people with disabilities and child-headed households which had been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The programme, which will be implemented in conjunction with the United Nations’ World Food Programme, will come in the form of monthly cash transfers or electronic vouchers worth US$12 per person, which can be redeemed in supermarkets.

“Zimbabwe is facing a humanitarian crisis which has been compounded by a deteriorating economy and the COVID-19 pandemic. This extra UK aid will mean people can feed their families and prevent the crises from escalating,” Turton said.

“We hope to see other donors step up to the plate with some extra funding to support the people of Zimbabwe through this difficult time.”

The food grant is said to be part of a global package worth £47 million to provide food, nutrition, water and shelter to help over 1,3 million vulnerable people in nine countries and regions, including Zimbabwe.

Besides Zimbabwe, some of the countries that will benefit are the Sahel, Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, Venezuela and Mozambique.

New UN data reveals that humanitarian crises are worsening around the world, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also reveals that 235 million people are expected to be in need of urgent assistance in 2021 compared to 175 million people at the start of 2020.

Hyperinflation, the fallout from COVID-19 and a third successive year of drought in 2020 have affected Zimbabweans in both urban and rural areas.

Francesca Erdelmann, the country director and representative of WFP in Zimbabwe said: “We are so grateful for our partnership with the UK’s FCDO. This generous and timely contribution from the people of the United Kingdom will go a long way to relieve the hunger burden on Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable urban
population.

“WFP and the humanitarian community are facing a shortage of funding and this contribution will ensure we can continue to save lives at this critical time when the grip of COVID-19 on the country is tightening and putting people’s livelihoods on the line.”

The new funding is also part of a wider £40,4 million Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Resilience Programme which, through the WFP, has since November 2019 provided food aid and cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable Zimbabweans.

To date, 413 000 extremely vulnerable people have received food assistance and 100 000 living in urban areas have received cash transfers.

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