Zim: World Food Program cuts December food for 2.6m people

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Original Post Date: 2003-12-24  Posted By: Jan

From the News Archives of: WWW.AfricanCrisis.Org
Date & Time Posted: 12/24/2003 12:27:41 PM
Zim: World Food Program cuts December food for 2.6m people

Johannesburg – Lack of donor funding has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to halve its December cereal ration to more than 2.6 million hungry Zimbabweans, the food agency said in a press release on Monday. “It’s tragic that these ration cuts have come at a time when people are normally celebrating the festive season, but if we’re not given food or cash by donors, then we’re simply unable to meet their food needs,” Mike Sackett, WFP regional director for Southern Africa, was quoted as saying. Prospects for the first quarter of 2004 look even worse, the WFP statement warned. Zimbabwe’s lean season starts in January, a period when granaries tend to be exhausted and people enduring food shortages are most reliant on food aid. “Without sufficient food people won’t have enough energy to cultivate crops for the year’s first harvest which is vital for stablising a household’s food needs,” Sackett said. Zimbabwe’s food needs represent two-thirds of WFP’s $311 million regional appeal, but to date the agency has received less than half of its target amount. More than 4 million Zimbabweans, the most vulnerable of the rural poor, will need assistance by January, but WFP goes into the new year with a $161.3 million funding shortfall.

“While food pledges are needed for the coming months, the real crisis is unfolding now. We urgently need new cash contributions to avoid a further reduction in rations which would have devastating consequences,” Sackett said. WFP information officer Richard Lee told IRIN that the current poor rains in some parts of Zimbabwe were also cause for concern, as it could hurt the size of the maize harvest due in March/April. As a result of shortages of agricultural inputs and the impact of HIV/AIDS, production is already forecast to fall well short of needs. “Few people still have income or savings to buy staple foods which have jumped in price by nearly 50 percent in the last few weeks, putting them out of reach of the average family. Inflation on some commodities is running at over 500 percent. In most rural areas, there is simply not enough food to go around. Overall, food security is rapidly deteriorating,” the WFP statement said.

Source:IRIN (UN)
published:Mon 22-Dec-2003