‘Adequate funds available for food support’

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

‘Adequate funds available for food support’ 
The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Dr Jenfan Muswere, addresses journalists during a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare yesterday

Rumbidzayi Zinyuke  and Precious Manomano

MORE than 63 000 tonnes of grain have so far been distributed to vulnerable and food-insecure people across the country’s provinces under the first phase of the drought mitigation programme, Government has said.

In addition, efforts are being stepped up significantly for the second phase starting next month, with enough money being made available to buy and distribute emergency food and pay urban allowances to the vulnerable.

Addressing a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere, said the grain had been distributed under the first phase of the Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy, which began in May and ends this month, while the second phase would run from next month to October.

“Accordingly, modalities for the second phase, August to October 2024, are being worked out. These include the grain movement plan, urban cash distribution plan, and mobilisation of more financial resources for the three months’ distribution. As at July 2, 2024, a cumulative 62 796,84 tonnes of grain had been distributed.”

So far, Manicaland has received 9 050,20 tonnes, Mashonaland Central 7 844,61 tonnes, Mashonaland East 6 207,03 tonnes, Mashonaland West 7 919,99 tonnes, Masvingo 12 246,18 tonnes, Matabeleland North 4 248,39 tonnes, Matabeleland South 5 201,15 tonnes and the Midlands 10 104,95 tonnes.

Communities are also receiving grain from traditional leaders under the Zunde RaMambo/Isiphala Senkosi programme.

Dr Muswere said a total of 3 397 tonnes of grain had been collected so far by chiefs across all rural provinces and distribution would be overseen by District Development Coordinators.

“In terms of the Government architecture, the chiefs play a different role in terms of community development and generally they chair development programmes, which also include taking care of vulnerable members of society. 

“So the chiefs, the headman and the village head have a detailed report within their jurisdiction of who are the most vulnerable members of society, which also includes child-headed families, the old, as well as disabled people. So the aim is to target vulnerable members of society using the Zunde RaMambo programme,” he said.

To fund these initiatives, Government has received US$32 million through the Sovereign Insurance Fund, as compensation for the crops destroyed in 27 districts by the El-Nino-induced drought. 

Development partners and the United Nations family have been supportive, and Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said the Government would also use funds availed in the 2024 National Budget to ensure no Zimbabwean goes hungry.

“There are two streams of resources that the Government has under control. One is resources coming out directly from the budget allocation for this year. But also, recently we’ve got a payment equivalent to US$32 million from Sovereign Insurance that we took as the Government, and that will also supply the resources that we’ve deployed towards both grain and cash distributions,” he said.

“Going forward, we want to expand the insurance programme further. Currently, we are only covering 27 districts. Next time around, we want to cover all districts or at least 90 percent of all districts. So we will be doubling our insurance but also increasing the allocated amount within the budget to deal with agricultural liability.”

Prof Ncube said the cash amounts to be distributed to individuals were being fine-tuned and assured the nation that the amount would be enough to bring relief to the affected families.

The 2024 Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment Committee (ZimLAC) Livelihoods and Nutrition Assessment Report established that more than six million people in rural areas and another 1,7 million in urban areas were likely to be food insecure this season.

This informed the formulation of the Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy and the Urban Cash Transfer initiatives

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister July Moyo said the process of food distribution was advancing well, adding that preparations for cash transfers were underway with registration still ongoing.

He said besides the food being mobilised by Government, the private sector was also importing grain to ensure the country had enough food stocks.

“We are preparing cash for food in the urban areas. We are also going to pay cash to 1,7 million people in urban areas. We give cash because we believe the market forces are still working very well. There is enough food that has been ordered by the private sector by both buying inside the country and importing. So the market forces in urban areas will work. The selection criteria has been set and we are looking at people living with disabilities, child-headed families and people who are out of work,” Minister Moyo said.

The urban programme will see families getting at least enough to buy each person 10kg of mealie meal per month.

Statistics indicate that about 1 million people who are food-insecure in Manicaland need 8 154,86 tonnes of grain per month, Mashonaland Central has 626 734 needing 4 700,51 tonnes monthly, Mashonaland East has 925 208 (6 939,06 tonnes), in Mashonaland West 803 370 people (6 025,27 tonnes), Matabeleland North has 520 524 people (3 903,93 tonnes), Matabeleland South has 322 334 people (2 417,51 tonnes), Midlands has 905 969 people (7 136 tonnes), while Masvingo has 951 466 people requiring 7 136 tonnes.

This year GMB is expecting 210 000 tonnes of grain from ARDA, AFC and commercial farmers.

This will be added to the large carryover stocks to supply most of the Government needs for food relief, while millers are importing their own grain for making mealie meal.