The donation brings the United States’ total contribution to WFP’s current relief efforts in Zimbabwe to US$29 million, allowing life-saving operations to continue in the 16 worst-affected areas until March, when the next harvest is due.
United States Ambassador Bruce Wharton announced this latest U.S. contribution ahead of his visit today to a site where WFP is distributing monthly food rations to food-insecure people in Umguza district, near the city of Bulawayo.
“I’m happy to be going to Umguza to witness the difference our contributions are making,” said Ambassador Wharton. “We’ll continue to work through USAID for sustainable food security to help build an economically stable Zimbabwe.”
Hunger is at a five-year high in Zimbabwe with one quarter of the rural population equivalent to 2.2 million people estimated to be facing food shortages between now and March. Since October, WFP and its partners have been assisting those in need with food and cash distributions.
WFP had planned to reach 1.8 million people during the current period but funding shortages have meant that only 1.2 million are receiving assistance. WFP and its partners have been forced to scale back the level of assistance and issue half-rations.
“This generous contribution from the United States will enable us to continue to provide food assistance in some especially hard-hit areas,” said WFP Country Director Sory Ouane. “It means the most needy are assured of support until they can cope on their own again, after the harvest in April.”
The contribution will be used locally to buy cereals and pulses as well as providing for cash transfers in areas where food is available in the markets. Part of the contribution is an in-kind donation of cereals from the United States.
In addition to funding constraints on its seasonal relief operations, WFP is facing shortfalls for its health, nutrition and resilience-building activities. WFP still requires US$60 million out of the US$80 million budgeted for these programmes over the next six months.
Since 2002, the United States has contributed more than US$1.1 billion to humanitarian operations in Zimbabwe and is currently the leading contributor to WFP operations in the country.
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WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. On average, WFP reaches more than 90 million people with food assistance in 80 countries each year.
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