WE have, at every opportune moment, been assured by our government that no one is going to starve in the wake of a potentially devastating El Nino-induced drought wafting in the air.

While we have absolutely no reason to doubt our very capable leaders’ ability to deliver on their promises, can we, however, be allowed to share one or two of our concerns regarding this issue of hunger which is threatening to bring misery to thousands of homes where millions are currently struggling to bring food on the table in this ailing economy.

In this regard, the United States Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FewsNet) has warned of an impending hunger crisis due to the El Nino-induced drought which has triggered a spike in food prices amid slumping incomes.

FewsNet has issued a chilling warning which we believe we and government should pay serious heed to.

In its latest assessment of the food security situation in the country the organisation said: “The likely poor harvest is expected to provide very short-lived to no improvements in household food access and availability.

“Poor households will try to supplement their poor harvest with market purchases and in-kind payments from petty trade, handicrafts and casual labour.

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“However, households with a significantly below-average to no harvest and limited access to income-earning opportunities will likely remain in crisis.”

It is an open secret that our agro-based economy is in serious trouble due to this drought and we should all be worried and prepared for the impending crisis.

Assuring ourselves that everything is under control and no calamity will befall us is fine and dandy, but we also need to be extra cautious by making sure that we are truly prepared for the worst.

And from the look of things, it does not seem we are ready for any disaster.

We say so because in this issue of NewsDay we are carrying a story on page two titled: Paltry 9% of 2,7m hungry citizens receive food, which paints a very bleak picture of what exactly is happening on the ground.

In a post-Cabinet briefing to journalists, Information minster Jenfan Muswere said of the 2 715 717 people in desperate need of food assistance only 247 576 had so far received something to eat.

"To date, a total of 2 722,46 metric tonnes of grain comprising 405 metric tonnes of traditional grains and 2 317,46 metric tonnes of maize has been distributed to 247 576 food insecure people, under the Food Deficit Mitigation Programme. Communities and households in distress are urged to contact their respective Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, who will in turn communicate with the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministry on the food requirements," Muswere said.

The amount distributed so far, is a drop in the ocean compared to the more than 100 000 tonnes pledged by government to cover the January to March lean period.

What is most worrying is that the effects of the current drought are yet to be felt and given that our harvest is already a given disaster, government should act more seriously about fighting the hunger threatening the nation.