WFP Delivers Food To Zimbabweans Hit By Food Crisis
The food crisis in Zimbabwe has reached its peak. Across the country, around 7 million people – well over half the entire population – are now facing severe food shortages due to last year’s disastrous harvest and worsening economic conditions.
WFP is aiming to provide monthly relief rations to 5.1 million of the most vulnerable people in both February and March – the two hardest and hungriest months before the annual maize harvest starts in April. Meanwhile, a consortium of 3 US-sponsored NGOs is planning to distribute food assistance to another 1.8 million beneficiaries – bringing the overall total to just under 7 million.
WFP and its NGO partners have been able to prevent the crisis from becoming a disaster thanks to the remarkable generosity of donors around the world. WFP has received more than US$240 million for our operations in 2008 and 2009, including US$5 million from the Chinese government – the largest Chinese donation ever to a single WFP operation.
While WFP has received donations from a host of non-traditional donors – such as China, Russia, Venezuela and Botswana – USA remains by far the largest donor to WFP’s activities in Zimbabwe. America has provided WFP with more than US$140 million for our current relief operation – and millions of poor and hungry Zimbabweans with a real reason to smile.
With the number of vulnerable people increasing, WFP has been forced to reduce the cereal ration to ensure that every beneficiary receives at least some assistance. While no one is taking home a full ration, each bag will still help a hungry family to survive these last two difficult months before the harvest.
“It has been a very difficult year because we harvested very little and my children were suffering from hunger and malnutrition and could not go to school because there was nothing to eat at home,” said 43-year-old, Tamburai Chifamba, a mother of 5 from Zvimba district in Mashonaland West Province. “But with this food, my children are getting healthy. The situation is not only better. It is good!”
“We have been receiving help from WFP since December and it has provided almost all of the food for me and my family,” said 21-year-old Tsitsi Phiri. “Before we started getting this food, I was very worried about 3 children and especially my baby, Misheck. But thankfully we now have some food to eat.”
The current crisis is almost over. The worst weeks are still ahead but another successful international relief operation has helped millions of people to survive another year of serious food shortages. Unfortunately, signs are that the forthcoming harvest will be poor and that another largescale food assistance operation will be necessary in Zimbabwe in 2009-2010.