THE United Nations has availed a helicopter to Zimbabwe with a capacity to carry three tonnes to speed up the food distribution process in areas ravaged by Cyclone Idai.
Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, July Moyo, confirmed the development and said World Food Programme would set up a tent at Mutare Aerodrome where the food would be carried from for distribution in Chimanimani and Chipinge.
"We have been briefed by the UN system that a helicopter is headed for Mutare. They will be working with Air Force of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe National Army to reach out all areas that are still inaccessible.
"The food is there, but our major challenge is transport. Our helicopters can only carry up to a tonne of grain and this was quiet taxing to reach out to as many people as possible. By yesterday, we had reached out to 26 centres in Chimanimani," he said.
Minister Moyo said the District Development Fund had opened a new road leading to Biriiri High School and a 10-tonne truck was dispatched with foodstuffs to bail out the stranded learners.
"We swiftly responded to distress calls from Biriiri High School who were having challenges in sourcing food for their about 600 students and DDF intervened by opening a road to the school.
"We were targeting to reach Ngangu by road as of Saturday, but unfortunately it rained and the two 4×4 trucks which had advance teams were stuck in the mud. We will continue with our efforts to ensure that all those affected by the cyclone's needs are catered for," he said.
Minister Moyo said they had also airlifted large quantities of medicine.
"The medicine was dropped at all clinics by our helicopters. Most of the health facilities received up to three months supplies," he said.
Minister Moyo said the temporary shelters brought into the country from the United Arab Emirates would assist in housing people who were sleeping in classrooms.
"Some villagers were sleeping in classrooms and we want families to stay together and the temporary shelters from UEA will come in handy.
"We also want learning to continue in these schools because children cannot lose out on their education," he said.
Some of the areas that have benefitted from the food aid include Copa, Ngangu, Mutambara High School, Lydia Chimonyo High School, Chikukwa Clinic, Kushinga Primary School, Tilbury, Rusitu, Ndima, Mutambara Hospital as well as Paidamoyo in Chipinge.