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Food crisis escalates in Matebeleland region

by Staff reporter
19 Feb 2024 at 04:48hrs | Views
A food crisis is worsening in the Matebeleland region owing to erratic rains with hunger already stalking villagers in drought-prone provinces, including the Bulawayo metropolitan province.

Community members, farmers and agricultural experts in Matebeleland have since expressed concern over the food security situation in the southern region of the country with provinces such as Matebeleland South, North and Bulawayo projected to have severe food shortages.

According to the latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac) rural livelihoods assessment, 26% of the rural population that translates to 2 715 717 people will be food insecure this year.

ZimVac estimated that over 1,5 million people will be cereal insecure mostly in urban areas with indications that the insecurity levels for urban areas in Zimbabwe are projected to have decreased to 29% last year from 42% reported in 2020.

 Nkayi Member of Parliament Mqondisi Ndebele said the food situation had worsened in his constituency.

 "We expect very little harvest if not nothing at all. For now, there is nothing from the government and little from non-governmental organisations. We are also afraid of the partisan food distribution," he said.

 Matebeleland North Rural Community Empowerment Trust co-ordinator Vumani Ndlovu said the majority of the people in Matebeleland North province were already experiencing acute food shortages due to drought.

 "In the 2022-23 farming season, the harvests were bad. It is the same thing again for the 2023-24 agricultural season. While basic foodstuffs like mealie-meal are available in the shops, most rural villagers cannot afford to buy food due to harsh economic conditions and high rate of unemployment," Ndlovu said.

"Crops are wilting and, in some areas, have become a write-off due to heat and poor rains. Livestock mortality is increasing because of drying water sources. It appears it is going to be a tough year for villagers who rely on farming for survival."

Ndlovu said the government was not doing much to alleviate the situation.

"Government must ensure that it caters for everyone. The situation has become precarious, and everyone is vulnerable. It will help if the government declare a state of emergency to attract donor support," Ndlovu said.

 Chief Khulumani Mathema of Gwanda in Matebeleland South said the food situation was bad in the area under his jurisdiction.

"From my assessment there is zero harvest and that means every household requires food and it's now the time that this is attended to urgently without waiting for late interventions. I only attended one meeting recently organised by the faith-based organisation, the Brethren in Christ Church, that seriously talked of emergency need for food, but it is not enough to have one organisation at play," Mathema said.

"Social welfare is trying to supply food to vulnerable communities or households but it is not enough. In ward 7, only 400 households are beneficiaries in the whole ward. This is a stab in the back. Everyone must be given food. This year it's likely to be a famine or a national disaster and requires the government to act now."

Matebeleland South farmer Ben Moyo said: "Given the state of crops now, I do not see any improvement. I am very pessimistic of people harvesting nothing.

"The cattle, which people can sell to supplement their food, are also beginning to be affected because the pastures have not fully recovered."

Source - southern eye
More on: #Food, #Crisis, #Drought