Zimbabwe’s food insecurity worsening


UN Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli

ZIMBABAWE’S food insecurity levels have significantly increased in all the country’s 60 districts to even include urban areas, the United Nations has indicated in its latest statement.
The dire food situation is increasingly becoming critical, particular in the country’s 20 most food insecure districts as the number of hungry people rapidly advances towards the four million mark, the UN has warned.
“In the districts with the highest food insecurity levels – Binga and Mudzi – 79 percent of the population will be food insecure in the period January to March 2017 – an increase from 50 percent and 46 percent respectively,” said the UN in a press statement.
“The impact of the El Nino-induced drought is being felt not only in rural areas, but also in urban areas. (Deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet) Rtd Col (Christian) Katsande informed of the government’s intention to conduct an urban livelihood assessment to assess urban and peri-urban food security, and invited the stakeholders to join in the effort to bring in their technical expertise and in-kind and financial support. This assessment is critical as it will provide a more holistic picture of the population deemed to be food insecure in the whole country,” the UN added.
The world body says since Zimbabwe’s Humanitarian Response Plan was finalised in April 2016, over US$100 million have been raised out of a targeted US$360 million. Some of the con contributions have come from USAID, China, ECHO, DFID, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark.
While appreciating the development partners’ generous support, UN Resident Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli, stressed that: “The findings of the 2016/2017 ZimVAC (Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee) and the 43 percent increase in the number of food insecure people will demand that we scale up our humanitarian response efforts in the coming months.”
highlighted that, with the increase in affected population and their needs, a significant funding gap remains. In responding to the drought situation, in addition to food and agriculture, it would be critical to also support areas of health and nutrition such as water, sanitation and hygiene as well as education and protection sectors, which are severely under-funded.
“In the education sector, for example, we need to invest more for inclusive school feeding, as investment in the children’s future is an investment in Zimbabwe’s future,” urged Parajuli.
The El Nino-induced drought has affected the entire southern Africa region. According to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), an estimated 41 million people in the region are food insecure, out of whom more than 21 million are in urgent need to assistance.  In response to the worst drought in 35 years, the SADC prepared a regional appeal, which is expected to be launched later this month.
A recent meeting between the UN family in Zimbabwe, non-governmental organisation, development partners, the private sector and government underscored the need for: continued collective increase in support to the drought response; joint support to the urban vulnerability assessment; strengthening the monitoring system in programme implementation; and, planning and preparation for possible effects of La Nina and strengthening of early warning systems.
Government representative, Katsande, called for a maximisation of multi-stakeholder collaborative efforts for the drought response and beyond/
Parajuli also reiterated: “The UN System is committed to continue to work with the Government and the development and humanitarian partners to further scale-up humanitarian, resilience-building and development activities to reach those who are the most vulnerable.  Also in view of the economic challenges the country is facing, I appeal for increased international support.”
The high-level meeting held yesterday reinforced collective commitment to continue to work together to maximize the impact of El Nino-induced drought response efforts. The renewed commitment came as the 2016/2017 ZimVAC Rural Livelihood Assessment found that the number of food insecure people in Zimbabwe would increase to over four million during the next peak lean season (January to March 2017).
The third Multi-Stakeholder Consultative Meeting was jointly hosted by the Office of the President and Cabinet and the UN System in Zimbabwe, and brought together 200 senior representatives from government, diplomatic corps, development partners, NGOs, private sector and the media.

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