From George Maponga in SAVE Valley, Chiredzi
MORE than 30 000 families have started receiving food assistance from the World Food Programme in Chiredzi where villagers are battling food shortages following the drought that affected yields last season. The families will receive the food assistance for the next six months in time for expected harvests.
WFP, through Plan International has already started rolling out the food relief scheme targeting vulnerable communities across Chiredzi district that would receive nearly 2 000 metric tonnes of maize up to March next year.
Speaking at the launch of WFP food relief operations at Mupinga Primary school in Tshovani communal lands in the Save Valley yesterday, Plan International national food aid manager Mr Titus Mafemba said 25 885 households in Chiredzi will receive monthly food rations until December this year.
He said the figure was expected to shoot up to over 30 000 beginning January next year when more families will be in need of food assistance.
“We are giving each person 6kg of sorghum, 800ml of cooking oil and 2kg of sugar beans per month and we will continue to do so until March next year when most families would have harvested their own crops,” said Mr Mafemba.
“The families that are getting food assistance are those classified as vulnerable according to research carried out by our teams together with assessments by Government departments,’’ he added.
Mr Mafemba conceded that the quantities being given to hunger-stricken families by WFP in Chiredzi were little adding that the rations would go up if more donors came on board.
He said WFP was using statistical data supplied by Government which carried out an assessment of families in dire need of food assistance throughout Zimbabwe following last season drought.
“According to data supplied by Government about 11,2 percent of families in Chiredzi district require food aid, but we have since discovered that the number of food insecure families is actually higher than that,’’ he added.
Chief Tshovani, Mr Felix Mundau decried the low quantities of food rations from WFP saying many villagers were also excluded from the food relief operations.
“While we are happy that WFP has come to assist us to mitigate the effects of crippling hunger sweeping through our land, we are also not happy with the quantities they are giving to our people. The food is too little and the number of people in need of assistance is way too high and something must be urgently done,’’ he said.
Chiredzi is one of the districts hardest hit by severe food shortages in Masvingo with over 200 000 people in urgent need of food relief after poor harvests induced by drought in the last farming season.
Besides food assistance from WFP, the food security situation is expected to improve in Chiredzi where Lowveld sugar producer Tongaat Hulett has revived the winter maize project that is expected to produce over 1 000 tonnes of maize next month.