With Covid-19 now worsening recurrent hunger in Zimbabwe, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has appealed for an additional US$250 million to mitigate the rapidly expanding emergency faced by the country.
WFP projections indicate that by year end, the number of food insecure Zimbabweans would have surged by almost 50 percent to touch 8.6 million - a staggering 60 percent of the population - owing to the combined effects of drought, economic recession and the pandemic.
In a statement, WFP's Regional Director for Southern Africa Lola Castro noted that many Zimbabweans were suffering the ravages of acute hunger and that the situation would worsen before getting better.
He urged the international community to step up in efforts to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe.
"Many Zimbabwean families are suffering the ravages of acute hunger, and their plight will get worse before it gets better.
"We need the international community to step up now to help us prevent a potential humanitarian catastrophe," Castro said.
With maize set to be an increasingly untenable crop in many arid regions of the country as temperatures rise, WFP is promoting the cultivation of drought-resistant, nutritious and indigenous alternatives like sorghum and millet.
This is part of a broader campaign to help vulnerable communities build resilience to increasingly frequent and severe climate shocks.
Donations permitting, WFP intends to assist 4 million of the most vulnerable this year - those suffering "crisis" and "emergency" hunger - and scale up to 5 million in January-April next year, the peak of the lean season.
As the already dire situation worsens, more contributions are urgently needed.
This month, for lack of funding, WFP will only reach 700,000 of 1.8 million intended recipients.