Tuesday, February 27, 2024
HomenewsZimbabwe gets aid amid drought crisis

Zimbabwe gets aid amid drought crisis


HARARE, Zimbabwe — The U.N. World Food Program said Wednesday that it was working with Zimbabwe’s government and aid agencies to provide food to 2.7 million rural people in the country as the El Niño weather phenomenon contributes to a drought crisis in southern Africa.

Food shortages putting nearly 20% of Zimbabwe’s population at risk of hunger have been caused by poor harvests in drought-ravaged areas where people rely on small-scale farming to eat. El Niño is expected to compound that by causing below-average rainfall again this year, said Francesca Erdelmann, WFP country director for Zimbabwe.

El Niño is a natural and recurring weather phenomenon that warms parts of the Pacific, affecting weather patterns around the world. It has different effects in different regions.

When rains fail or come late, it has a significant impact, Erdelmann told a news conference.

January to March is referred to as the lean season in Zimbabwe, when rural households run out of food while waiting for the next harvest.

More than 60% of Zimbabwe’s 15 million people live in rural areas. Their life is increasingly affected by a cycle of drought and floods aggravated by climate change.

Dry spells are becoming longer and more severe. For decades, Zimbabwe’s rainy season reliably ran from October to March. It has become erratic in recent years, sometimes starting only in December and ending sooner.

Once an exporter of food, Zimbabwe has relied heavily on assistance from donors to feed its people in recent years. Agricultural production also fell sharply after the seizures of white-owned farms under former President Robert Mugabe starting in 2000 but had begun to recover.

The United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. government’s foreign aid agency, has estimated through its Famine Early Warning Systems Network that 20 million people in southern Africa will need food relief between January and March. Many people in the areas of highest concern such as Zimbabwe, southern Malawi, parts of Mozambique and southern Madagascar will be unable to feed themselves into early 2025 due to El Niño, USAID said.

Erdelmann said WFP had received a donation of $11 million from USAID.

  photo  FILE – A woman walks along a path in a deserted field Zvimba, rural Zimbabwe, Saturday, June, 26, 2021. The U.N.’s World Food Program says it is combining forces with aid agencies and the Zimbabwean government to provide food to 2.7 million rural people in the country as the El Nino weather phenomenon contributes to a looming drought crisis across southern Africa. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)
 
 
  photo  An official from WFP inspects a donation of $11 million worth of food aid at a ceremony in Harare, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Jan 17. 2024. The U.N. World Food Program said Wednesday that it was working with Zimbabwe’s government and aid agencies to provide food to 2.7 million rural people in the country as the El Nino weather phenomenon contributes to a drought crisis in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
 
 



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