Columbus Mabika and Talent Chimutambgi
The United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Food Programme (WFP) Zimbabwe yesterday signed a US$5 million agreement to alleviate hunger in five districts in the country through the latter's Lean Season Assistance (LSA) programme.
The assistance, which is targeting 116 000 people in Mutoko, Nyanga, Nkayi, Beitbridge, Umzingwane and Epworth, also seeks to protect property at household level and to improve nutrition among communities.
Head of DFID Zimbabwe and South Africa Mrs Annabel Gerry said the programme would see 97 000 households in the five districts and another 19 000 in Harare get cash-based food assistance.
"We will assist 97 000 people in five rural districts with three to four monthly cash transfers between now and March. This builds on work already done by the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF) in 18 districts," she said.
"This will boost our ongoing support to 43 500 of the ZRBF assisted farmers to prepare for this agricultural season which is likely to be drier than usual," said Mrs Gerry.
"In addition to recognising the challenge of food insecurity in urban areas, DFID will also provide funding for four monthly cash transfers to 19 000 food insecure households in Epworth, Harare."
She said the five districts were among the country's most food insecure as they were still to recover from the devastating effects of the 2015/ 16 El Nino-induced drought.
Mrs Gerry added that the rural LSA was one of the primary and long standing goals of the WFP in Zimbabwe.
She said efforts to eradicate poverty and empower communities would succeed through partnership between the Government and other cooperating partners.
Speaking at the same ceremony, United Nations resident coordinator in Zimbabwe Mr Bishow Parajuli said WFP's LSA project directly contributes to the millennium development goals, the achievement of national priorities on food security and nutrition and to related outcomes of the United Nations development assistance framework in Zimbabwe.
"WFP position of saving lives and changing lives through such initiatives is fully in line with developmental goal. I hope this marks the beginning of a fruitful long-term journey aimed towards addressing the immediate needs of Zimbabwean people," he said.
Besides food and nutrition security, the LSA is also seeks to address issues of health and hygiene, livestock production and environmental protection with beneficiaries set to receive training under the programme.