WFP to increase food aid beneficiaries to 4,4m

Morris Bishi

Masvingo – The World Food Program (WFP) will increase the number of people benefitting from its food aid programs from 2,2million to 4,4million this year, the organisation’s Representative and Country Director Eddie Rowe has said.

He told The Mirror in an interview that the review is due to the increasingly fragile food situation in the country caused by the drought and the effects of Covid-19 on the economy.

The number of food beneficiaries is likely to reach the peak of 4,4million at the beginning of the lean season in October.

He dispelled speculation in some quarters that WFP has pulled out its food programs in Mberengwa District.

“We have not pulled out of Mberengwa but it is the case every year that we scale down food assistance post harvest. Actually we have extended our lean season assistance program beyond March, the time by which it is supposed to end because of the effects of Covid-19 and the prolonged drought,” said Rowe.

He said the food aid requires funding of US$260m.

“We have since revised our response plan considering the effects of Covid-19 and the drought. The lean season will be rolled back so that people continue to receive aid for most of the year.

“We need financial assistance of US$260m to cover this program and we are still waiting for our national vulnerability assessment to really determine the total number of people in need of assistance,” said Rowe.

At its peak WFP operates in all 60 rural districts of the country and eight urban districts.

A WFP report released early this year says about 45 million people in Southern Africa are in urgent need of food aid as a result of drought, flooding and economic hardship. The report also said nearly half of Zimbabwe’s 15 million people live in a state of chronic food insecurity.

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