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Zimbabwe food crisis worse than last year: UN agency

01 Jul 2020 at 07:28hrs | Views
AFOOD security report by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) notes that Zimbabweans are worse-off than they were a year after the launch of the humanitarian appeal in August last year.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) added that the hunger situation, reported to be affecting an estimated seven million Zimbabweans, would spill into 2021, piling more misery on millions of the already impoverished citizens.

"COVID-19-induced job losses, inflationary environment and a struggling economy, among other socio-economic ills, has worsened the plight of food insecure Zimbabweans already grappling with the high cost of food basics.

"Since the launch of the Revised Humanitarian Appeal in August 2019, circumstances for millions of Zimbabweans have worsened. Inflation continues to erode purchasing power and affordability of food and other essential goods is a daily challenge," the OCHA report read, adding that "more than a million tonnes of maize needs to be imported to fill the food gap".

It states that the food gap for a second year running will be close to one million tonnes.

Nutritional needs remain high, with over 1,1 million children and women requiring urgent nutrition assistance.

"Already, the World Food Programme is anticipating greater need for the 2020/2021 lean season and is programming for 4,5 million and 550 000 people in rural and urban communities respectively, requiring food assistance support," the report read.

FAO warns that the hunger situation could spill into 2021 largely as a result of the high and ever-rising cost of food.

"Considering the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated containment measures, the prevalence of food insecurity is expected to increase from the third quarter of 2020 to early 2021," FAO said in a country report.

"Shocks on both the demand side (reduced household incomes due to an expected economic contraction) and the supply side (logistical bottlenecks hindering the normal flow of food commodities) are expected to curtail the households' access to food."

Food aid distribution even in the urban centres is also reportedly being politicised only to benefit Zanu-PF supporters, a charge the ruling party has persistently denied.

Source - newsday
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