No one will starve, says Government

Source: No one will starve, says Government – Sunday News Jul 17, 2016

Tinomuda Chakanyuka Sunday News Reporter
THE Government has the capacity to deal with the drought induced food shortages in the country amid indications that the number of food-insecure people countrywide is expected to increase to over four million.

According to the latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac) Report the number of food-insecure people in the country will increase to 4,1 million during the next peak lean season (January to March 2017).

The previous ZimVac Report had estimated the number of food insecure people in the country to be three million. With the latest projections there have been calls for stakeholders to maximise their response efforts to the drought situation.

In an interview with Sunday News on Friday, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Prisca Mupfumira said the Government was geared to deal with the projected increase in the number of people in need of food assistance.

She reiterated that no one would starve as the Government and its partners were frantically working to ensure food aid was available for those in want.

“We are going ahead with the drought mitigation programme. We are in full blast. In light of the latest ZimVac findings, we will have to include these people to the ones we were already assisting with food aid every month. I can assure you that no one will starve. The Government will not let anyone starve. We are working flat out to ensure that everyone who is in need of food assistance gets it,” she said.

The Government requires $1,3 billion to adequately respond to the drought situation in the country. Various stakeholders including the Government, United Nations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), development partners and the private sector met in Harare recently to reinforce commitment to adequately respond to the food shortages.

In a statement last week, UN resident co-ordinator in Zimbabwe, Mr Bishow Parajuli, stressed the need to scale up humanitarian response efforts in the coming months, in light of the latest ZimVac findings. He reiterated the UN system’s commitment to continue working with the Government and other humanitarian partners to secure and provide food aid to affected areas.

The UN System is committed to continue working with the Government and the development and humanitarian partners to further scale-up humanitarian, resilience-building and development activities to reach those who are most vulnerable,” said Mr Parajuli.

The latest ZimVac report says food insecurity levels in the country increased significantly in all 60 districts and in particular in the twenty most food-insecure districts. In the districts with the highest food insecurity levels — Binga and Mudzi — 79 percent of the population will be food insecure in the period January to March 2017 — an increase of 50 per cent and 46 per cent respectively.

The report further states that the impact of the El Nino-induced drought was also being felt in urban areas. Since the Humanitarian Response Plan was finalised in April this year, over $100 million has been availed against the USD360 million target set by the UN to assist the country’s drought alleviation programme.

The money has been raised courtesy of contributions from partners such as USAID, China, ECHO, DFID, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark. Mr Bishow Parajuli noted that with the increase in the number of food insecure people, a significant funding gap in the response remains.

“Therefore, in addition to Food and Agriculture, it would be critical to also support Health and Nutrition; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Education; and Protection sectors, which are severely under-funded. In the education sector, for example, we need to invest more for inclusive school feeding, as the investment in the children’s future is an investment in Zimbabwe’s future,” urged Mr Parajuli.

Zimbabwe is not the only country experiencing food shortages owing to the El Nino-induced drought as the phenomenon has affected the entire Southern Africa region. According to the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc), an estimated 41 million people in the region are food-insecure, with more than 21 million in urgent need of assistance. In response to the worst drought in 35 years, the Sadc prepared a regional appeal, which is expected to be launched later this month.