Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter
World Food Programme (WFP) and its development partners have raised US$100 million to address growing humanitarian needs in the country following the launch of a revised flash appeal on Tuesday.
Over US$331 million is required to feed more than 5,7 million people countrywide between now and April next year.
Speaking after meeting President Mnangagwa at his offices in Harare, WFP executive director Mr David Beasley said US$100 million has since been raised and his organisation was committed to helping Zimbabwe avert hunger.
He noted that economic transition is taking place in the country and reaffirmed WFP’s commitment to do all it can to help the country.
“What is making things difficult during this economic transition is that you have one of the worst droughts you have ever had,” he said.
“We believe the sun is not setting in Zimbabwe, but it is rising. We had a very productive discussion with the President and Cabinet ministers, not just a pat on the back, but productive and detailed discussions on how we can collaborate strategically and effectively so that people won’t suffer because you have a serious food security issue right now.”
Mr Beasley said the revised flash appeal co-launched by the Government and the United Nations (UN) showed commitment to move forward providing support to Zimbabwe during these distressful times.
“The appeal we did yesterday (Tuesday) raised another US$100 million from donors like the US, China, the UK and many other countries,” he said.
“As the leadership works on these difficult issues of macro and economic reforms and many other issues, we will be here to help the people go through this transition and create food security for the population.”
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Acting Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the WFP chief had a productive conversation with
President Mnangagwa on the way forward in terms of the involvement of the WFP in the country’s drought situation.
President Mnangagwa on Tuesday declared a State of National Disaster paving way for the launch of Revised Zimbabwe Humanitarian Appeal to the international community in an effort to mobilse funds to cushion the population from the effects of drought.
Mr Beasley held a meeting with the Cabinet Committee on Emergency, Disaster Recovery and Rehabilitation and had a field visit to Masvingo on fact finding mission.
“Today we had a great conversation with the President and Mr Beasley. Very cordial discussions about the Zimbabwe situation and how the WFP comes to help us in this situation,” Prof Murwira said.
He said the Government is looking at a very positive outcome in terms of ameliorating the effects of drought together with WFP.
“We are looking at a situation where there is a good chemistry that is developing between Zimbabwe and the international community and this chemistry can only yield us better results in terms of Zimbabwe as a family within the family of nations,” he said.
“As you know, President Mnangagwa and his team are focusing on re-engagement process as you can see the re-engagement process is giving us those kinds of positive results in terms of the response of the international community to any need Zimbabwe may have.”
The Minister said the humanitarian response plan Government co-launched with the UN paved the way in terms of fundraising for the country.
Public Service and Social Welfare Minisiter Sekai Nzenza said people facing hunger could be over 5.7 million.
“I am pleased that the Government is taking the hunger problem seriously, particularly in cushioning the most vulnerable,” she said, adding that her ministry distributes up to 27 000 tons of maize across the 10 provinces but still cannot reach everyone.
“This is where we are relying very much on donor partners. So, I am pleased to say that the support we are getting from the WFP has been incredible and also from the UN partners.”
He said the visit by the WFP executive director will go a long way to show the overwhelming support the nation is receiving from the international community.
Government expects to harvest about 852 000 tonnes against a national requirement of 1,8 million tonnes.
The impact of prolonged drought throughout the country resulted in less than 50 percent of average annual production of maize crop as well as a severe depletion of the country’s strategic grain reserves.
Production yields at communal farm level have been worst hit and granaries are only enough to sustain households for a maximum of three months.