HARARE, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) — At least 1.1 million Zimbabweans in urban areas will require food aid between now and the next harvest in March 2017 following a devastating El-Nino induced drought this year, an official said Friday.
Already, 4.1 million Zimbabweans in rural areas are food insecure, bringing to 5.2 million the total number of Zimbabweans who require food aid until March next year.
About 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s population lives in rural areas.
An official from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Zimbabwe Office Constance Oka told journalists the figure of 1.1 million food insecure urban dwellers came out from the just concluded urban vulnerability assessment carried out by the government.
The government announced in July that once the results of the assessment were out, it would start providing food insecure households in urban areas with food aid as the country grapples with its worst drought in 35 years.
The drought also affected the entire southern African region where 40 million people require food assistance before March next year.
For its drought response program, FAO has targeted to assist 486,000 vulnerable households in Zimbabwe and requires a total budget of 35.2 million U.S. dollars.
However, Oka lamented that the UN agency’s drought response program was severely underfunded, as 8 million dollars had so far been secured.
“Without adequate support for agriculture recovery, the humanitarian needs faced by small holder farmers will stretch beyond 2017,” she said.
The Zimbabwe government declared the 2015/16 agriculture season a national disaster in February and lunched a food aid appeal of 1.5 billion dollars.