Govt moves in as more require food aid

Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent
Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac)’s countrywide assessment on food requirements needs to be revised to cater for more vulnerable people in rural areas, provincial affairs ministers have said. ZimVac is a department in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare that conducts assessments on the livelihoods of people in rural areas and informs Government and its development partners on intervention measures.

In September last year, it predicted that about 1,5 million people in rural areas would require food aid beginning this month.

But Government officials in various provinces said in interviews that the situation could be worse than predicted.

Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Faber Chidarikire said grain shortages were intensifying and available stocks could not be sufficient to take the province to next month.

Government gave each province 3 000 tonnes of maize to cover the last three months of last year.

“The ZimVac assessment was a noble idea to get to the vulnerable, but it was not thorough as it left out other people in its assessment,” Cde Chidarikire said.

“They did not compile the exact numbers and as it is, the grain we have is not enough to cater for each and everyone within our provinces. We feel the recent green light given to importers to import grain will save the situation.”

Acting Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Donald Chirunga said they needed more grain supplements.

“Allocations are not adequate to feed people on the ground as last year’s drought continues to affect more people,” he said. “The reserves we have are far less than what we require.”

Masvingo Provincial Administrator Mr Felix Chikovo said: “Allocation of grain from the Government is in progress, but as it stands 232 468 (70 percent) of families in our province require food assistance and as of now numbers are rising and the figure has risen to 341 864 people who are food insecure.

“Initially, ZimVac had estimated that 17 percent of people would require food aid, but this was just sampling which was done by the committee and any sampling is open to plus or minus hence in this case the percentages are continuously increasing, making it difficult to say how many people are affected.”

Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Jason Machaya said their only hope was on the planned imports.

“The situation does not look good, especially in the southern region,” he said. “As of December some of our depots had adequate grain, but January seems difficult as we await and put all our hopes on imports.

“Government’s move to import more grain is a noble idea as the signs of a severe drought were all over hence they had to move in quickly before the situation worsened.”

Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Mandi Chimene said while there were shortages, people should not panic as Government had put in place modalities to save the situation.

“As we speak, grain is already being distributed across the province and it is my hope that each and every citizen gets part of these allocations,” she said.

“We are also working on solutions to ensure that our project to feed the masses is not disturbed by lack of adequate transport in remote areas.”

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made this week said Government had mobilised $260 million to import grain as part of its efforts to avert hunger.

He admitted the number of vulnerable people were increasing, adding that Government would import between 500 000 and 700 000 tonnes of maize to ensure the strategic grain reserve was maintained at proper levels.

“In the meantime, we are moving grain to deficit areas and the number of vulnerable people is increasing. The most affected areas are Matabeleland South, parts of Midlands, Masvingo and southern parts of Manicaland,” said Dr Made.

 

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