CHIVI – Traditional leaders here have pleaded for urgent food aid from government and humanitarian organisations, saying the food shortages have dramatically increased the desperation of the already beleaguered population.
In an address to a Chivi stakeholders meeting organised by the rural district council led by new chairperson Killer Zivhu, the district’s 15 chiefs lamented rising food shortages and said there was a spectre of loss of life due to hunger.
The dry district has been hit by perennial food shortages owing to incessant droughts. Chiefs hinted that the situation could go out of hand if they do not get aid in time.
“We are appealing for urgent food aid,” said Paramount Chief Chivi. “Villagers in Chivi are under fire from hunger that is ravaging them day and night. We went for elections and they are over, now we need the food that was promised. Politicians promised to save us from hunger so its time they deliver their promises.”
Government has been struggling to provide food for starving villagers.
Zivhu pledged to assist in mobilising food for the struggling villagers.
“We have heard the chiefs’ pleas of urgent food aid,” Zivhu said.
“We are aware of the dire situation and as the council leaders we are going to engage government and other stakeholders to help fight hunger and starvation. We will undertake a massive food mobilisation scheme working with everyone including local and international organisation in the humanitarian sector.”
Zivhu said his council would mobilise food aid from local and international humanitarian organisations under the banner of the newly-formed Chivi Development Trust.
Food shortages in the province worsened last year after former Masvingo provincial governor, Titus Maluleke banned 29 NGO’s that were operating in the province.
A local human rights group, Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (Cotrad) said 200 000 people in the four districts alone in the province were in need of food aid.
“The banning of 29 NGOs from operating in the province last year reduced the number of humanitarian aid organisations providing food aid to the drought stricken province,” said Zivanai Muzorodzi, Cotrad spokesperson. “Approximately more than 200 000 households are in the quagmire of poverty in districts such as Chivi, Mwenezi, Bikita and Zaka.”
Another traditional leader, Chief Madamombe said: “The hunger scourge needs our leaders in the council to spread their efforts to the international community and our children living in the diaspora if we are to win it. People are struggling to afford decent meals in their homes and they need help as a matter of urgency.”