Ellen Chasokela Herald Reporter
The United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has availed an additional US$41,9 million for the provision of food for vulnerable people between October 2019 to April 2020.
This brings the US government’s total contribution for the 2019-2020 season to US$86,9 million. The funding is expected to ensure that more than one million rural Zimbabweans have access to adequate food supplies before the next harvest.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Nichols said the continued assistance demonstrates his government’s continued commitment to assisting Zimbabweans in their time of need.
“The US$45 million contribution we announced in August, combined with this additional US$41,9 million contribution, will provide food rations and a limited number of cash transfers for the purchase of food between October 2019 and April 2020. This assistance will maintain the nutritional status of vulnerable Zimbabweans and alleviate suffering,” said Ambassador Nichols.
“The United States remains the largest bilateral donor to emergency humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe. Today’s (yesterday) additional US$41,9 million underscores our continued commitment to assisting the people of Zimbabwe during difficult times.
“These contributions will enable USAID to scale up its emergency response over the coming months. We will work closely with the World Food Programme (WFP) to ensure that Zimbabweans in dire need of assistance have access to lifesaving food.’’
Ambassador Nichols said the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe has potential to revive the economy and end food insecurity challenges.
He added that while they recognise the need for emergency assistance, humanitarian support alone was not enough.
The root causes of food insecurity and poverty must be tackled for Zimbabweans to end chronic food insecurity for good.
“The United States urges the Government of Zimbabwe to implement a market-based agriculture policy and eradicate corruption in its subsidy programmes, which severely exacerbate the very problems of food insecurity they are purportedly intended to solve.
“Zimbabwe needs to accelerate market based-policies that make land bankable, fully liberalise the trade of grains and pulses, pay local farmers on par with imported grain costs, put idle farmland on the market, speed resolution of claims owed to commercial farmers, and end the Vulnerable Inputs Support Scheme in favour of more transparent support to smallholder farmers,’’ he said.
Ambassador Nichols said he has been impressed by the resilient and entrepreneurial spirit of Zimbabweans and hopes that the reforms currently underway will help the country and its people to stop depending on humanitarian assistance. He added that the US supports programmes that educate local smallholder farmers on increasing productivity, using less water, and deploying fewer inputs.
WFP Zimbabwe country director Mr Eddie Rowe expressed gratitude towards the contribution of the US government, adding that the intervention will ensure vulnerable households meet their food and nutrition needs.