The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that more than 3.3 million people in urban Zimbabwe will be food insecure by the end of the year as the effects of the COVID-19 and recent severe droughts continue to cripple the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading throughout the country and the nationwide lockdown has further worsened the country's economy with millions being affected as they have lost their sources of livelihood.
WFP Zimbabwe Acting Country Director and Representative Niels Balzer told 263Chat recently that the virus is changing the face of hunger by dragging more urban populations into poverty and compounding the effects of climate change and socio-economic shocks in areas of the country that had previously escaped severe levels of food insecurity.
"We know the situation is set to worsen in the urban areas of the country too, WFP estimates that by the end of the year, the number food insecure Zimbabweans living in urban areas will have increased - from 2.2 million to 3.3 million.
"In the immediate term to respond to the growing needs - WFP is planning to reach 192,865 new food insecure people living in urban areas, combined with those we are currently assisting - this will mean we reach a total of 292,865 beneficiaries by end of August. WFP is expanding its response in urban domains to reach over half a million people by the end of the year.
To mitigate the challenge, Balzer said WFP is working round the clock to ensure enough stocks of food arrive in the country to meet the increasing food and nutrition needs of vulnerable communities across the country.
"The challenge is even more daunting because the drought has tightened food availability across much of Southern Africa - meaning WFP must source from beyond the continent, increasing lead times. WFP has established a regional staging area in Johannesburg to facilitate the dispatch of essential humanitarian cargo overland and by air to Zimbabwe and elsewhere and been assured by the South African government that such traffic can and will continue uninterrupted," he said.