Food Aid Needs Rise by 60%

Posted by Alex Bell
Friday, July 27, 2012

Children at the Deli Primary School in Umguza, Zimbabwe, line up for an enriched corn and soy porridge provided by the U.N. World Food Program.

By Alex Bell
27 July 2012

Zimbabwe’s food aid needs have risen by 60% in the past year, with almost two million people in need of foreign aid contributions to survive the coming ‘lean’ season.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday that 1.6 million people will need assistance, a significant rise in numbers over the past year when one million people were in need.

“The United Nations World Food Programme and our partners are gearing up to respond to this large rise in food needs,” said WFP country director Felix Bamezon.

Bamezon added: “Our field staff are already reporting signs of distress in rural areas, including empty granaries and farmers selling off their livestock to make ends meet.”

The WFP said its US$119 million aid programme, meant to run through to March next year, is facing a US$87 million shortfall. The food aid agency said this year’s cereal harvest was about one million tons, one-third lower than last year and the lowest since 2009.

“The impact will be felt hardest at the peak of the hunger season, from January to March next year,” the WFP said.

The food shortages in Zimbabwe, which have been a yearly crisis for more than a decade, continue to be blamed on erratic rainfall, drought and limited access to farming supplies. This is despite Zimbabwe once being a breadbasket of the region with hundreds of successful farms that survived worse conditions than are being experienced now.

More than a decade since the destructive land grab campaign, Zimbabwe still cannot feed itself, despite a commitment by the leaders in the unity government to ensure food security for the nation.

Analysts say that Zimbabwe will only be able to make significant economic recoveries when the agriculture sector is repaired. But this now seems in doubt, with new country laws indicating that property rights are the last thing on the government’s mind.

The new draft constitution contains land clauses that have been slammed for legitimising state sanctioned theft of land, while dismissing property rights. The clauses also clearly undermine a key ruling on the unlawful land grab campaign made by the regional human rights tribunal in 2008, by stating that the Zim government is not obligated to pay compensation for seized land.

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