Zimbabwe: Zim Faces Food Crisis As Donors Shift Focus to COVID-19

10 April 2020

Zimbabwe faces severe food shortages in months ahead, as global humanitarian funding is shifting focus towards the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, 263Chat has established.

The United Nations humanitarian arm, World Food Program (WFP), a major player in feeding vulnerable households this week announced that it is experiencing funding problems to meet its monthly targets since beginning of the year.

It announced that it is in urgent need of US 130 million to feed Zimbabwe's 4.3 million people who are acutely food insecure till August with US 472 million needed up to December.

"WFP is planning to assist 4.1 million people in April, although insufficient funding has prevented it to achieving the monthly targets since the turn of the year. In March it reached 3.7 million of the most vulnerable Zimbabweans," WFP said in a statement.

Zimbabwe is facing a severe food shortages following a massive drought that hampered food production this year.

The situation has been worsened an economic crisis already biting its vulnerable population.

With WFP having identified 4.3 million people as acutely food insecure, it further reported that the total number of people in need of food assistance in the country stands at 7.7 million, around half the entire population.

"With unprecedented hyperinflation having pushed the prices of staples beyond the reach of most Zimbabweans, increasingly desperate families are eating less, selling off precious belongings and going into debt," it added.

Covid-19 threatens to exacerbate Zimbabwe's economic and hunger crises, drastically affecting lives in both urban and rural areas, analysts have warned.

This comes amid growing shift towards funding of health care systems to combat the spread of the virus.

Analysts have also alluded to the fact that the worst hit areas by the Coronavirus are the major global economic powers which are the sources of donor funds and this is expected to affect humanitarian assistance to donor dependant countries such as Zimbabwe.

The global economy is the expected to shrink moreso the fragile economy of Zimbabwe, leaving the cash-strapped government further incapacitated to assist its citizens.

Government has however been disbursing electronic cash transfers to the vulnerable, but observers say the 200 RTGS disbursed to targeted families remains far short of adequately feeding them in this hyperinflationary environment.

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