2.2 million need aid as hunger stalks rural Zimbabwe -WFP

2.2 million need aid as hunger stalks rural Zimbabwe -WFP

HARARE, September 3, 2013 (The Source) – An estimated 2, 2 million people, about one in four of the rural population, will require food assistance in Zimbabwe after poor harvests, a United Nations agency said on Tuesday.

This is the largest number of affected people since early 2009 when more than half the population required food support, the World Food Programme said, adding that it will start distributing food next month to the most vulnerable.

This follows a study by the WFP and the Zimbabwe government to estimate food security levels and identify affected areas.

“Many districts, particularly in the south, harvested very little and people are already trying to stretch out their dwindling food stocks,” said WFP country director Sory Ouane.

“WFP is working closely with the Government and partners to respond to the looming food crisis.”

He said the high levels of food insecurity were because of poor weather conditions, the unavailability and high cost of agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilisers and projected high cereal prices due to the poor maize harvest.

A WFP study found that grain prices were 15 percent higher in rural markets than last year because of food shortages.

Last year, the government also contributed $10 million worth of grain from domestic stocks towards a joint relief operation with WFP and partners to provide food assistance to some 1.4 million people in 37 rural districts.