Harare — Japan has announced an additional US$14,8 million (R272,3 million) to ensure food security to vulnerable populations in Zimbabwe.
The funding will enable the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Zimbabwean government to procure 25 600 tonnes to meet the needs of 512 000 households in rural areas for a period of six months.
"The maize procured to support the government's efforts will help to cushion Zimbabweans at the peak of the hunger season", said Eddie Rowe, the WFP Zimbabwe director.
Recurring droughts and the negative effects of economic conditions have resulted in Zimbabwe currently facing one of its most severe food security crises.
The number of acutely food insecure Zimbabweans has risen to 4,3 million, from 3,8 million at the end of last year.
The total number of food-insecure people now stands at 7,7 million, which is almost half of the population.
Toshiyuki Iwado, the Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, expressed solidarity with vulnerable populations in Zimbabwe.
"Given the extent and severity of the current food insecurity crisis in Zimbabwe, the government of Japan decided to increase its funding even further," the envoy said.
Donor countries have contributed to efforts to eradicate hunger in Zimbabwe but there is a shortfall of $130 million (R2,39 billion).
The current coronavirus pandemic outbreak is worsening the situation.
Four people have died from 34 infections in Zimbabwe.
July Moyo, the Zimbabwe Minister of Local Government and Public Works, welcomed Japan's pledge.
"The much-needed assistance will leave visible footprints in the most vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe," Moyo said.