Over 100k urban dwellers receive food assistance

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THE World Food Programme (WFP), with the support of USAID, has scaled up its urban financial assistance programme to reach over 100 000 people in eight urban areas across the country.

WFP’s recent projections indicate that by year’s end, the number of food insecure Zimbabweans would have surged by almost 50 percent to 8,6 million people owing to the combined effects of drought, economic recession and the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the WFP indicated that USAID’s support would provide relief for vulnerable families in Gokwe, Redcliff, Kwekwe, Ruwa, Chinhoyi, Buhera, Chipinge and Chegutu, which are struggling to meet their daily food needs due to the effects of the coronavirus.

“The financial assistance from USAID allows WFP to provide support to over 103 700 people with monthly cash-based assistance equivalent to US$12 each, enabling them to meet almost two-thirds of their daily food requirements for the next six months.  USAID and WFP will reach the most vulnerable and food insecure families, particularly women, people who are unemployed, and people suffering from chronic illness or disability.

“Covid-19 is aggravating Zimbabwe’s already severe climate and recession-induced food security crisis, threatening to deepen and widen it. WFP projections indicate that by year’s end, the number of food insecure people will have surged by nearly 50 percent to 8,6 million — a staggering 60 percent of the population.

“In urban areas, where ongoing lockdown measures have triggered a massive loss of livelihoods, the number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 3,3 million, from 2,2 million, as the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic become more pronounced,” WFP said.

While the government has begun easing the national lockdown to allow the resumption of economic activities, many individuals in the informal sector have lost their sources of income and access to food has become a key challenge for the poor urban households.

“The United States remains committed to the people of Zimbabwe.  In addition to the US$10 million we have provided to support the cash transfers for over 103 700 vulnerable Zimbabweans in eight urban areas, we are providing over US$60 million to support food distribution for nearly one million people in rural areas during the current lean season.

“During the pandemic, we will continue to prioritise our critical health and humanitarian assistance activities,” USAID Zimbabwe mission director Art Brown..

This comes as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and WFP latest Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Security Hotspots recently placed Zimbabwe among top 25 countries set to face devastating hunger in coming months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Today we have expanded our urban social assistance programme to ease the challenges faced by urban communities, which have been worsened by Covid-19.  We are grateful to USAID for its support in such a time as this,” WFP Zimbabwe representative and country director Francesca Erdelmann said.

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