THE World Food Programme (WFP) says the country was facing another famine after the 2020 harvest was hit hard by continued dry spells.

BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

The WFP said it was appealing to the international community to raise over US$200 million to feed more than half the country’s population next year.

“We are ready to step up — but we urgently need the international community to step with us! More than US$200 million is still required for us to feed those in need,” WFP tweeted on Sunday.

The 2018/2019 season in Zimbabwe according to WFP, was affected by one of the worst droughts in recent history which has left about 7,2 million people in need of food aid.

Most parts of the country have received little rain over the past few weeks throwing the farming community, still reeling from last year’s drought, into panic.

Meanwhile, WFP in Zimbabwe recently completed its last cash distribution of 2019, which supported some 19 000 vulnerable residents in Harare’s sub-urban district of Epworth.

Those deemed most food insecure have been receiving monthly cash transfers from WFP since June, as part of an urban pilot project funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and the EU’s branch of European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.

But WFP spokesperson, southern Africa, Gerald Bourke recently said about 60% of Zimbabweans, who have been receiving cash, now prefer food due to price hikes. According to a scale used to measure famine, or the gravity of food insecurity, about four million Zimbabweans are not far from famine.

This was the first time WFP provided assistance to an urban area in Zimbabwe.

Next year, WFP will expand its urban assistance programme across eight districts, nationwide. It will continue providing cash-based transfers on a monthly basis, to those who need it most.

As a result of this year’s severe drought, economic downturn and Cyclone Idai, around 7,2 million people were pushed into severe hunger.

Of this total, 2,2 million people live in urban areas. WFP’s revised emergency response plan hopes to provide mobile cash transfers to 200 000 people. Currently, funding for 100 000 has been secured. WFP is seeking funds to assist an additional 100 000 people.

Government last week revealed that it was planning to do cloud seeding early next year to mitigate against drought.