By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
As Zimbabwean citizens’ anger rises against President Robert Mugabe’s continued leadership, four million people face starvation, according to a new multi-partner report.
The latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimMVAC) study for 2016-2017 established that the number of food-insecure people would rise to over four million during the peak hunger season from January to March 2017.
Already, other assessments have estimated people needing urgent food bailouts at around three million.
An El Nino-induced drought ravaged most of southern Africa in the 2015-2016 agricultural season, resulting in poor yields and putting pressure on the cash-strapped Zimbabwean government to import cereals to meet national needs.
According to a UN statement, “food insecurity levels increased significantly in all 60 districts and in particular in the twenty most food-insecure districts”.
In some districts, close to 80 percent of the population will be food insecure during the lean period, marking an increase of up to 50 percent compared with the last season.
“According to the ZimVAC report, the impact of the El Nino-induced drought is being felt not only in rural areas but also in urban areas,” read the UN report.
Private procurers have stepped in to augment food imports, but recent reports indicated that current cash shortages have affected their operations at a time the government is struggling to buy cereals from countries with surpluses.
Christian Katsande, the Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) told a multi-stakeholder consultative meeting on Thursday that government would soon embark on an urban and peri-urban study of food insecurity.
The meeting was jointly hosted by the OPC, which has taken over national disaster management, and the UN System in Zimbabwe, bringing together 200 senior representatives from the government, diplomatic corps, development partners, NGOs, private sector and the media.
UN Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli, said there was need “to scale up humanitarian response efforts in the coming months” and appealed for international intervention.
“In view of the economic challenges the country is facing, I appeal for increased international support,” said Parajuli.
Only $100 million from a requested $360 million has been raised to respond to the drought related disaster.
A wave of protests by Zimbabweans calling for an end to the economic crisis and Mugabe’s rule hit Zimbabwe from last week and is set to widen as demonstrators call for more action. Nehanda Radio