(The Southern African Times) – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Thursday appealed for an additional 204 million U.S. dollars to support over four million Zimbabweans facing food shortages over the next six months.
The funding would allow WFP to provide the minimum amount of emergency food assistance to the most vulnerable 3.5 million rural and 550,000 urban dwellers, complementing the response of Zimbabwe’s government and other partners, the WFP said in a statement.
“More than half of Zimbabweans in the rural areas are left with no alternative but to skip meals, reduce portion size or sell off precious belongings in order to cope,” said Francesca Erdelmann, WFP Zimbabwe representative.
“We are deeply concerned that if WFP does not receive enough funding to reach the 4 million people it intends to, families will be further pushed to the limit,” she added.
The appeal comes ahead of the “lean” season, which risks pushing some 6.9 million people – nearly half of Zimbabwe’s population – into hunger by the peak month of March, according to national data.
The 6.9 million includes roughly one-third of the rural population, who are expected to face “crisis” or “emergency” levels of hunger, and 2.3 million hungry urban dwellers, the UN agency said.
“Others are spared from falling deeper into acute hunger thanks to assistance from WFP and partners,” it said.
Hyperinflation has pushed the prices of basics beyond the means of most Zimbabweans, while the economic fallout from COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation – making it especially hard for poor families to afford a nutritious diet, the WFP said.