THE World Food Programme (WFP) says a total of US$2,1 million in cash-based transfers was disbursed to distressed people between July and December last year.
Climate-related hazards, including droughts, prolonged mid-season dry spells, flash floods, cyclones, pests and diseases have negatively affected vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.
In its recent annual country report, WFP said it continued to strengthen its partnerships with government and various players to advance Sustainable Development Goal policies.
“US$2 096 821 in cash-based transfers were disbursed to distressed people. Of the 674 358 people assisted, 48% were men and 52% were women,” WFP said.
The non-governmental organisation transitioned to a new country strategic plan covering the period from July 2022 to December 2026 providing a roadmap to consolidate promotion of shock-responsive social protection and sustainable and resilient foods systems.
According to the report,12 519 tonnes of food were also distributed to support vulnerable communities.
Earlier this year, WFP disclosed that it had spent at least US$40 million assisting 700 000 vulnerable communities around the country during the lean season.
The lean season is the time between planting and harvesting when food stocks dwindle and vulnerable families often skip meals.
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In an interview, WFP country director Francesca Erdelmannn told NewsDay Farming earlier this year that the lean season assistance was being supported by Japan, the United States Agency for International Development and Germany.
“On a programme like this for the period of about six months where we provide support for over 700 000 people which costs close to US$40 million and it’s because of the contributions like the ones we have received from the government of Japan that then makes it possible,” she said.
“We now have to see how this agricultural season turns out and that will give us information about the next lean season which starts in October this year, what does it look like, we cannot yet speculate about the needs of that time because it depends very much on the productivity during the agricultural season.
“With support from partners including Japan, WFP is also introducing climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive farming techniques, and connecting farmers to markets, strengthening business skills and financial literacy.”
The food and nutrition security situation in the country continues to be negatively impacted by a combination of factors that include macroeconomic conditions, poor crop productivity and a lack of economically viable alternative livelihood options.
The rural Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report co-ordinated by the Food and Nutrition Council indicated that 38% of the rural population would be cereal insecure during the peak lean season (January-March 2023).
This is up from a 27% during the last lean season. An urban ZimVAC is ongoing to have insights into the food security situation in urban areas, which has been impacted over the last three years by COVID-19 and global economic dynamics.
According to the Hunger Hotspots report published by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation and WFP in September 2022, Zimbabwe continues to be among the top 19 countries where food insecurity is rising.
With the generous contribution of US$500 000 from the government of Japan, WFP provided food baskets to 2 900 vulnerable people in Mount Darwin district and 46 000 vulnerable people in Hwedza district January 2023.
WFP distributes food assistance unconditional to food-insecure people during the lean season in close co-ordination with the national Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy programme.