Zimbabwe Faces Severe Food Crisis, Over Half of Population Needs Aid

A villager arrives to collect her monthly allocations of food aid provided by the World Food Program (WFP) in Mumijo, Buhera district east of the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, March 16, 2024. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo
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HARARE, – More than half of Zimbabwe’s population will require food aid this year due to a devastating drought that has led to widespread crop failure, the country’s cabinet announced on Tuesday.

Humanitarian organizations are urgently seeking funding to avert a hunger crisis.

The Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment Committee (ZIMLAC) reported that approximately 6 million people in rural areas and 1.7 million in urban areas will need assistance.

This crisis makes Zimbabwe one of the worst-hit countries by the El Nino-induced drought affecting Southern Africa, alongside Zambia and Malawi.

“This is Zimbabwe’s worst drought in 40 years,” the government stated, underscoring the severity of the situation. The latest crop assessment presented to the cabinet revealed a 77% reduction in maize production for the 2023/2024 summer season, resulting in a significant deficit.

“A 77% reduction in production to 744,271 metric tonnes is estimated for the 2023/2024 summer season, indicating a major shortfall for both food and stock feed,” according to a cabinet brief.

To address the shortfall, a local consortium of private millers plans to import 1.4 million metric tonnes of white and yellow maize from Brazil and other countries.

Additionally, the United Nations and UNICEF have issued appeals for financial assistance to support millions of Zimbabweans facing hunger.

This situation follows the government’s own appeal for $2 billion in food aid from donors and well-wishers. Zimbabwe has struggled with food security since 2000, when land reforms led by former president Robert Mugabe disrupted agricultural production.

The impact of climate change has further exacerbated the country’s food production challenges.

As the crisis unfolds, the need for international aid and effective solutions becomes increasingly urgent to prevent widespread hunger and ensure the well-being of millions in Zimbabwe.