Zim celebrates Humanitarian Day as hunger looms
ZIMBABWE today joins the rest of the world to mark the World Humanitarian Day under the theme “Share Humanity” as the country faces severe food and water shortages, especially in the southern rural communities where drought is ravaging following poor rains.
The United Nations theme, seeking to inspire humanitarian work around the globe while recognising those who face danger and adversity in order to help others, is specially telling for Zimbabwe where the World Food Programme has been scaling down its programmes yet the country has, since 2000, been a perennial case for increased humanitarian assistance owing to its continued poor agricultural performance.
According to the country’s largest farmer’s organisation, by numbers – the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), Zimbabwean farmers produced 742 226 tonnes of maize this past season against 1 456 153 tonnes produced across the country last season, representing a 51 percent drop in harvested maize although the cumulative percentage fall across the eight provinces is 56 percent.
Matabeleland South has the biggest grain deficit with its maize production having dropped by -84 percent, followed by Masvingo (-76 percent), Matabeleland North (-71 Percent), Midlands (-66 percent), Manicaland (-49 percent), Mashonaland East (-42 percent), Mashonaland West (-37 percent) and Mashonaland Central (-23 percent), according to ZFU, the country’s biggest farmers organisation by numbers.
As a result Vice President Ememrson Mnangagwa has indicated that Zimbabwe would require at least US$300 million to import enough grain to avert serious hunger, especially in rural communities south of the country.
Ultimately, the amount means that the country requires nearly 1,4 million tonnes of grain, given the US$220 landing price for maize whose price is currently hovering around US$179 per tonne, according to the International Grains Council. The amount of planned grain imports translates to more than 70 percent of the country’s total maize requirements.
In a message commemorating the World Humanitarian Day, UN Zimbawbe resident coordinator, Bishow Parajuli, paid tribute to the families and humanitarian workers who have lost their lives while serving humanity.
“I salute those who are in active humanitarian duty away from friends and loved ones in difficult and hostile areas risking their lives to help others,” said Parajuli.
The UN estimates that more than 100 million women, men and children need life-saving humanitarian assistance as the number of people affected by conflict has reached new record levels never seen since the Second World War, at a time when those affected by natural and human-induced disasters remains profound.
“This means that Governments, the United Nations, Development Partners and the humanitarian community have to rise not only to the level of this emergency by acting faster to save lives but also in working together steadfastly for long-term solution” said the UN Resident Coordinator.
Citing the latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report, Parajuli said that Zimbabwe has been suffering from recurrent food insecurity as a result of drought, in which 1,5 million Zimbabweans (16 percent of rural households) are likely to be unable to meet their food needs during the 2015/2016 hunger season.
To reduce vulnerability, address the recurrent effects of climate change and build resilience of vulnerable communities the UN has noted that ensuring food security was the key, while Zimbabwe urging Zimbabwe to sustainably and responsibly use its natural resources, among other interventions that also touch on effective gender inclusion programmes, as well as providing adequate, predictable, timely and flexible responses, including financial and human resources.