Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has started rolling out a $22 million Lean Season Assistance programme for the 2018 /19 season that is aimed at supporting over 430 000 food insecure Zimbabweans.
In a statement recently, WFP country director Mr Eddie Rowe said the programme started in October.
“This contribution is supporting the most vulnerable people in food insecure areas in Zimbabwe over six months to get through what is for many, the most difficult time of the year,” he said.
Mr Rowe said the USAID was providing support to the LSA programme through its Office of Food for Peace.
He said they (USAID) had helped them with food assistance for cash-based transfers and purchase of local and regional commodities such as sorghum, as well as an additional contribution of in-kind commodities sourced from the US for the beneficiaries.
“WFP’s ability to respond to escalating needs in the country hinges on timely and sustained financial contributions from donor nations,” said Mr Rowe.
“The US government has provided more than US$77 million in 2017 alone to emergency food support, nutritional assistance, and other programmes.
“In addition, WFP is currently scaling up to provide life-saving food assistance to more than 1,1 million people per month in Zimbabwe — an effort that will require at least US$73,5 million in additional funding through April 2019.”
According to the findings of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) more than 2,4 million people in the rural areas will face acute food insecurity at the peak of the lean season (January — March 2019).
Speaking during the just ended 20th Global Child Nutrition Forum held in Tunisia, Mr Rowe said they were working in partnership with the Government to support the re-establishment of a national school feeding programme that would link to local agricultural production.
He said the programme was being implemented under the country’s strategic plan for 2017-2021.
“Under its Country Strategic Plan 2017-2021, WFP Zimbabwe is working in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe to support the re-establishment of a national school feeding programme that would link to local agricultural production,” said Mr Rowe.
“We have already embarked on a water source development programme, drilling boreholes at 22 primary schools, ensuring access to clean and safe water-pumped using renewable solar energy — which also supports on-site nutritional gardens.”
Mr Rowe said school feeding in Zimbabwe is an essential piece of the social safety net.