ZIMBABWE – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced an additional $5 million contribution to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe, in response to worsening drought conditions and increased food insecurity.
In a statement, the United States Embassy said this brings the total of U.S. government funding for humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe to $32.5 million since June 2015 following a poor harvest across the country.
According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee, an estimated 1.5 million rural Zimbabweans will be food insecure in the first three months of this year. This figure is likely to increase if the El Niño weather phenomenon, as predicted, causes continued drought and a poor April – June 2016 harvest.
USAID’s additional $5 million contribution will support WFP’s Productive Asset Creation activity starting in May 2016 and will provide food rations or cash transfers to benefit over 80,000 individuals in eight districts across Zimbabwe over a six-month period.
In exchange for the food rations or cash transfers, beneficiaries will participate in the creation or rehabilitation of community assets, including irrigation systems and dams, to improve infrastructure and livelihoods for the future.
“USAID is proud to support the World Food Programme to help vulnerable Zimbabweans cope through this difficult drought,” said USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Stephanie Funk.
Funk noted that “this program addresses immediate food security needs while gradually helping vulnerable communities build resilience to climatic shocks and eliminating the need for food assistance in the long-term.”
With total contributions of $32.5 million, USAID is working with its implementing partners WFP, World Vision, and Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture to scale up food security programs across ten districts in Manicaland, Masvingo, and Matabeleland North and South, reaching 450,000 people with humanitarian assistance.
In order to target and coordinate the U.S. government’s response to El Niño, USAID Director of Southern African Affairs and the leader of USAID’s working group on El Niño, Bradley Bessire, is visiting Zimbabwe this week to see first-hand the scope and severity of the current lean season and El Niño’s impact on food security in Zimbabwe.