©️ THE Japanese Embassy in Zimbabwe yesterday availed over US$15 million to assist drought and flood affected communities in the country currently facing starvation, among other challenges.
This comes as the United Nations (UN) recently indicated that over 8 million people in Zimbabwe are currently facing starvation due to recurring droughts, floods and economic hardships, adding that the situation is likely to worsen due to the threat of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a statement, Japan’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Toshiyuki Iwado said in efforts to improve food security for vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe, the Japanese embassy committed US$15,3 million, which was spread across various institutions providing assistance to the vulnerable in the country.
“The government of Japan has mobilised a total of more than US$15,3 million in emergency funding to assist the most vulnerable people severely affected by drought and floods in Zimbabwe through UN agencies, namely the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM),” Iwado said.
“Recurring droughts and worsening economic conditions have resulted in Zimbabwe currently facing one of its worst food security crises.
“A recent nationwide assessment, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), showed that the total number of food-insecure people now stands at 7,7 million, more than half the population, while the number of those who are acutely food insecure stands at 4,3 million.
“As well as drought, many of the victims of Cyclone Idai, which occurred in March 2019, still require support to rebuild their lives. Given the extent and severity of the current humanitarian crisis, life-saving assistance is urgently needed and Japan has greatly increased its funding,” he added.
Iwado further revealed that of the US$15,3 million, US$14,8 million was directed towards food assistance to vulnerable populations through the WFP and the government.
“This will enable the purchase and distribution of around 25 615 metric tonnes of maize. It is expected that this will meet the essential food security needs of 512 000 households in rural areas for a period of six months,” he said.
Recently, the WFP launched an urgent appeal for US$19,5 million to adapt its operations, including food assistance community resilience programmes, to the effects of Covid-19.
“As Covid-19 worsens, the hunger crisis in Zimbabwe (is also worsening), we must continue to help the most hungry and vulnerable people in the country.
“It is in this light that the WFP is urgently appealing for US$19,5 million to adapt our operations to Covid-19 and support 4,1 million people suffering from hunger.
“With most Zimbabweans already struggling to put food on the table, the Covid-19 pandemic has widened and deepened desperation. We must all do our utmost to prevent this tragedy turning into a catastrophe,” WFP said.
Iwado indicated that US$454 545 was dedicated to availing a comprehensive set of life-saving nutrition, HIV/Aids and water, sanitation and hygiene interventions targeting the most vulnerable women and children in the four districts of Binga, Buhera, Chiredzi and Masvingo through Unicef.
“This will include the screening and treatment of children for malnutrition, imparting of healthy coping strategies to people living with and vulnerable to HIV and Aids, and provision of clean water and sanitation to 10 000 children at schools,” Iwado said.
Iwado added that the remaining US$96 000 was availed, through the IOM, to support people in Manicaland Province who were affected by Cyclone Idai and are still displaced.
“This will include the provision of transitional shelters and strengthening of resilience of the displaced people. While Cyclone Idai occurred over a year ago, many of the victims whose homes were destroyed still do not have suitable shelter.
“It is my hope that this assistance will provide some of them with suitable homes so that they can begin to rebuild their lives, while also building their resilience so that they will be better able to cope with natural disasters in the future,” Iwado said.
Meanwhile, IOM Zimbabwe chief of mission Mario Lito Malanca welcomed the timely support, saying this would go a long way in meeting the needs of people affected by Cyclone Idai and the drought.
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