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UK pledges £4mln to feed 110K food insecure Zimbabweans in urban areas

By Almot Maqolo

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The United Kingdom (UK) has pledged to give Zimbabwe about £4 million (approx. US$5.4 million) to help support 110 000 food insecure people living in 8 urban areas.

It is part of a global package worth £47 million to provide food, nutrition, water and shelter to help over 1.3 million vulnerable people in 9 countries and regions, including Zimbabwe.

New United Nations data reveals humanitarian crises are worsening around the world, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, 235 million people are expected to be in need of urgent assistance in 2021 compared to 175 million people at the start of 2020.

These highly vulnerable people, a large percentage of which includes elderly, people with disabilities and child-headed households have been severely impacted by Covid-19 and the support, implemented by the UN’s World Food Programme, will come in the form of monthly cash transfers or electronic vouchers worth 12 USD per person which can be redeemed in supermarkets. 

Zimbabwe’s Development Director for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said:
“The country is facing a humanitarian crisis which has been compounded by a deteriorating economy and the COVID-19 pandemic. This extra UK aid support will mean people can feed their families and prevent the crises from escalating. We hope to see other donors step up to the plate with some extra funding to support the people of Zimbabwe through this difficult time.”

Hyperinflation, the fallout from COVID-19 and a third successive year of drought in 2020 has affected Zimbabweans in both urban and rural areas. 

According to the most recent national data, 5.6 million people—nearly half of Zimbabwe’s population may be pushed into hunger by its March peak. 

That includes roughly one-third of the rural population, who are expected to face “crisis” or “emergency” levels of hunger, and 2.2 million hungry urban dwellers. 
Francesca Erdelmann, Country Director and Representative of the World Food Programme in Zimbabwe said: “We are so grateful for our partnership with the UK’s FCDO. This generous and timely contribution from the people of the United Kingdom will go a long way to relieve the hunger burden on Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable urban population. WFP and the humanitarian community are facing a shortage of funding, and this contribution will ensure we can continue to save lives at this critical time when the grip of COVID-19 on the country is tightening and putting people’s livelihoods on the line.” 

This new funding is part of a wider £40.4 million Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Resilience Programme (ZHARP) which, through the World Food Programme, has since November 2019 provided food aid and cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable Zimbabweans. 

To date, 413,000 extremely vulnerable people have received food assistance and 100,000 living in urban areas have received cash transfers. In the future the UK plans to support on average 156,000 people in 3 rural areas during the lean season with in-kind food assistance up to the next harvest expected in April 2021.


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