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Lean Months Ahead After Poor Harvest In Zimbabwe

As Zimbabwe braces for the worst 'hunger season' in years, WFP is preparing food and cash distributions to help farmers like Mavis Mukarati hold on to her goats.

Following poor rains, Mavis' maize cobs are the size of her hand (Photo: WFP/Victoria Cavanagh)

As Zimbabwe braces for the worst 'hunger season' in years, WFP is preparing food and cash distributions to help farmers like Mavis Mukarati hold on to her goats.

Mavis (54) lives in Masvingo province in the southern part of the country, one of the areas worst affected by the recent poor rains. She farms the land surrounding her house in Hakren village.

"We had prepared everything but the rain was so little that it didn't bring any reward," Mavis says. "You just get so tired, but I need to find strength to continue because I need to look after my granddaughter."

Mavis provides for six family members and also pays school fees for her orphaned granddaughter. She owns five goats and says they are her lifeline.

"Over the years, having goats is how I've survived," she says. "When they breed, I sell some. But now I've only got five left. If they go, I don't know how I'll get more and there will be no more money from selling their little ones."

A recent study has found that 2.2 million people - a quarter of the rural population – will not be able to provide food for themselves during the coming 'hunger season' of October 2013 to March 2014. This is the period preceding harvest time in April. Read news release

To safeguard the livelihoods of the most vulnerable families, WFP and partners will begin distributions of cereal, beans and oil in October. In some areas, cash transfers will also be made so people can buy their cereals from local markets.

“Food insecurity is on the rise in Zimbabwe and WFP monitoring has found many people already reducing their daily number of meals,” says WFP Country Director, Sory Ouane. “We are working closely with the Government, international community and partners to response to this dire situation.”

Mavis harvested five 50 kg bags of maize this year, down from 18 bags last year which was not enough either. Part of her small harvest last year was sold to beer brewers to generate some cash flow. However, this year, with only five bags in total, that will not be possible and she knows she faces some hard times in the months ahead.