UK pledges US$5.4m to feed 110K food insecure urbanites

The United Kingdom has pledged £4 million (US$5.4 million) to help feed 110 000 food insecure people in some urban areas in Zimbabwe.

The funds are part of a global package worth £47 million to provide food, nutrition, water and shelter to help over 1.3 million vulnerable people in nine countries and regions, including Zimbabwe.

Other countries and regions include the Sahel, Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, Venezuela and Mozambique while the global package is expected to provide food, nutrition, water and shelter for vulnerable families.

According to new United Nations (UN) data, 235 million people are expected to be in need of urgent assistance in 2021 compared to 175 million people at the start of 2020 due to humanitarian crises that are worsening around the world, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the UK Embassy in Harare, said 110 000 food insecure people living in eight urban areas of Zimbabwe will receive US$5.4 million.

“These highly vulnerable people, a large percentage of which includes elderly, people with disabilities and child-headed households have been severely impacted by Covid-19 and the support, implemented by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), will come in the form of monthly cash transfers or electronic vouchers worth US$12 per person which can be redeemed in supermarkets,” the Embassy said.

I“Zimbabwe is facing a humanitarian crisis which has been compounded by a deteriorating economy and the Covid-19 pandemic. This extra UK aid support will mean people can feed their families and prevent the crises from escalating. We hope to see other donors step up to the plate with some extra funding to support the people of Zimbabwe through this difficult time.”

According to most recent national data, 5.6 million people, nearly half of Zimbabwe’s population may be pushed into hunger by its March peak, which includes roughly one-third of the rural population, who are expected to face “crisis” or “emergency” levels of hunger, and 2.2 million hungry urban dwellers. 

Country Director and Representative of the WFP in Zimbabwe, Francesca Erdelmann, expressed gratitude for their partnership with the UK.

“This generous and timely contribution from the people of UK will go a long way to relieve the hunger burden on Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable urban population. WFP and the humanitarian community are facing a shortage of funding, and this contribution will ensure we can continue to save lives at this critical time when the grip of Covid-19 on the country is tightening and putting people’s livelihoods on the line,” she said.

The UK Embassy noted that this new funding is part of a wider £40.4 million Zimbabwe Humanitarian and Resilience Programme (ZHARP) which, through the WFP, has since November 2019 provided food aid and cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable Zimbabweans.

To date, 413 000 extremely vulnerable people have received food assistance and 100 000 living in urban areas have received cash transfers.

The embassy said in future the UK plans to support on average 156 000 people in three rural areas during the lean season with in-kind food assistance up to the next harvest expected in April 2021.

In Zimbabwe, WFP works to enable food-insecure people, including refugees, in the most affected districts to meet their basic food and nutrition requirements during severe seasonal shocks or other crises.

Urban recipients are supported with cash transfers; rural residents with cereals, pulses and vegetable oil.

WFP’s support in Zimbabwe strongly stresses resilience-building activities that forge and protect development gains. Key among them is offering food assistance for activities that boost agricultural production, access to markets, earnings and savings, and minimize the impacts of adverse weather.

The UK said it is one of the largest bilateral donors to Zimbabwe and for the 2020 to 2021 financial year, the UK’s aid to Zimbabwe is in the region of £140 million.

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