SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE United Kingdom (UK) has approved a US$5,4 million food relief fund for Zimbabwe, which will come in the form of monthly cash transfers or electronic vouchers worth US$12 per person redeemable in supermarkets.
The scheme which would be implemented by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), aims to help feed 110 000 food insecure people in the country’s urban areas.
This new funding is part of a wider £40,4 million Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Resilience Programme (ZHARP) which, through the WFP, has since November 2019 provided food aid and cash transfers to the vulnerable.
These highly vulnerable people, a large percentage of which includes elderly, people with disabilities and child-headed households selected to be on the programme, have been severely impacted by Covid-19.
Zimbabwe’s UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said the country was facing a humanitarian crisis which had been compounded by a deteriorating economy and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This extra UK aid support will mean people can feed their families and prevent the crises from escalating. 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,” FCDO said in a statement.
Hyperinflation, the fallout from Covid-19 and a third successive year of drought in 2020 has affected Zimbabweans in both urban and rural areas.
According to the most recent national data, 5,6 million people — nearly half of Zimbabwe’s population, would need food aid by March this year.
That includes roughly one-third of the rural population, who are expected to face “crisis” or “emergency” levels of hunger, and 2,2 million hungry urban dwellers.
WFP country director and representative Francesca Erdelmann praised FCDO for providing this timely boost.
“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,” Erdelmann said.
To date, 413 000 vulnerable people have received food assistance and 100 000 living in urban areas have received cash transfers.