Irish humanitarian aid agency, GOAL, is planning to double its food distribution targets in Zimbabwe as the UN warns that half the population now faces severe food shortages and hunger.
GOAL intends to increase the number of people it is reaching with food and cash transfers from 200,000 a month to almost half a million from early January in Chipinge and Chimanimani districts in Manicaland province.
As part of its upscaling GOAL is hoping to expand to new districts, partnering with the World Food Programme (WFP).
GOAL Zimbabwe Country Director, Gabriella Prandini, said today: “The situation is now critical in Zimbabwe, due to the impact of Cyclone Idai compounded by a crashing economy and drought. I have never experienced this level of food insecurity and we expect malnutrition rates to rapidly rise in the country.”
She said the crisis is being exacerbated by ongoing drought with poor rains forecast yet again in the run-up to the main harvest next April. The situation has been worsened by the consistent increase of prices of basic commodities.
“I recently witnessed parents in rural areas being forced to send their children hungry to school,” she said.
This week the UN revealed that approximately one-quarter of Zimbabwe’s population will receive food aid through the World Food Programme from January to avert the hunger crisis. WFP will provide 4.1 million Zimbabweans with cereal, pulses and vegetable oil and a protective nutrition ration for children under five years of age.
It predicts that around half of the country’s population is facing hunger with 7.7 million reported to be experiencing severe hunger.
To implement the response plan at the revised level and reach 4.1 million people at the peak of the lean season, WFP requires an additional USD173.1million -which is the funding gap.
WFP has appealed to donors for contributions to help it reach the most food-insecure households with food assistance in a timely manner.