SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday received US$7 million in new funding from Switzerland to assist families living in urban areas to strengthen their skills and ability to cope in the face of economic and climate shocks.
This comes as 5,5 million rural dwellers are expected to be food insecure by next month which has been expedited by the current Covid-19 pandemic that has seen Zimbabwe in lockdown since March last year.
The WPF estimates that a further 2,3 million urban dwellers are also food insecure which has seen the agency providing grocery vouchers and cash transfers to over 300 000 people in cities.
The additional US$7 million which is coming from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) will complement the cash transfers that the WFP is already delivering.
SDC expects these vulnerable residents to be equipped with activities which will build their resilience to cope with various shocks and stressors, which can devastate their food security.
With the new funding, WFP together with other cooperating partners and the government is set to engage urban communities in Bulawayo, Mutare, and Gweru.
These communities will work together to boost urban agriculture, build linkages between rural-urban food supply chains and learn climate smart agricultural techniques among other key activities.
In a statement yesterday, SDC director of cooperation in Zimbabwe, Manuel Thurnhofer said the Swiss contribution would go a long way to assist families in the urban areas.
“This timely contribution to WFP will help alleviate the suffering of a large number of people in Zimbabwe’s urban areas who are struggling to cope with the twin shocks of Covid-19 and inflationary pressures that are causing a rise in prices of basic commodities.”
Government currently estimates that about half of all urban dwellers — or roughly 2,2 million people — go to bed hungry.
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated Zimbabwe’s economic instability.