THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced an additional $5 million contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for humanitarian assistance as development partners respond to the El Nino-induced drought the country is facing.
The contribution was announced by the United States embassy in Harare on Wednesday.
“In response to worsening drought conditions and increased food insecurity, the United States Agency for International Development has announced an additional $5 million contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme for humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe.
“This brings total US government funding for humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe to $32.5 million since June 2015 following a poor harvest across the country,” the embassy said.
The government last week said 1.5 million people are in need of food aid.
The figure is set to increase as the 2015-2016 farming season has been severely affected by poor rains and as such another bad harvest is expected.
“USAID’s additional $5 million contribution will support WFP’s Productive Asset Creation activity starting in May 2016 and will provide food rations or cash transfers to benefit more than 80,000 individuals in eight districts across Zimbabwe over a six-month period.
In exchange for the food rations or cash transfers, beneficiaries will participate in the creation or rehabilitation of community assets, including irrigation systems and dams, to improve infrastructure and livelihoods for the future,” added the US embassy.
It quoted USAID/Zimbabwe Mission director Stephanie Funk saying the agency was keen to support the vulnerable in Zimbabwe.
“This programme addresses immediate food security needs while gradually helping vulnerable communities build resilience to climatic shocks and eliminating the need for food assistance in the long-term.”
The government has come up with immediate measures to fight food shortages, including opening up imports of maize and mealie-meal to private traders, while the movement of grain from areas with surplus to those in need will be allowed.