BY IRENE MOYO
HUNDREDS of families in drought-prone Matabeleland South are in urgent need of food aid after poor harvests.
To avert a food crisis, a government taskforce has been set up in the province to revive the drought relief programme, which had been stopped two months ago.
A recent report by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) 2021 Rural Livelihoods Assessment stated that 50% of households in Matabeleland South province have less than three months’ supplies of food.
The report also said the number of hungry families might increase in both rural and urban areas.
“We are hungry, and we are only surviving on a single meal per day. It’s been two to three months without receiving any assistance from the Social Welfare department. We need help before we die of starvation,” said Tholakele Zitha, a resident from Gwanda’s Ward 5.
Siphilisiwe Ncube from Beitbridge township said she is on anti-retroviral treatment (ARVs), which needs adequate food intake for the medication to work.
“It’s hard to take medication without food. Some HIV patients have decided to discontinue taking their medication, which will expose them to the virus,” she said.
Nomalungelo Sibanda of Mzinyathi in eSigodini said: “We urge the government and donors to assist with food and sustainable projects that will enable us to get income and food. Programmes like food for work are also needed.”
Faced with a major food crisis government has deployed soldiers and other State security organs to raid and seize grain from individuals and at farmers homesteads, farms and roadblocks and deliver it to the Grain Marketing Board whose grain stocks are said to be fast dwindling.
Humanitarian agencies have warned that more than 5,4 million people in the country face starvation despite millions of dollars having been spent on government-aided agricultural programmes such as Intwasa/Pfumvudza and the Command Agriculture Programmes to boost food security in the country.