By Tonderai Saharo
AT LEAST 10 000 vulnerable people in Masvingo town are benefiting from a World Food Programme (WFP) initiative that seeks to eradicate food insecurity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic crisis in urban areas.
The global humanitarian aid organisation is giving out US$12 per month to the most vulnerable individuals from the city’s 10 wards to buy basic commodities.
Beneficiaries do not receive the hand-out in cash, but the money is given through an E-voucher card, which is redeemed at selected retail and wholesale shops around the city.
Some of the participating outlets are located in the high-density suburbs for the benefit of the elderly and disabled beneficiaries.
CARE Zimbabwe is being engaged as the implementing partner under the programme, Urban food security and resilience.
Some of the beneficiaries, during a recent assessment of the programme by WPF spokesperson Claire Nevill, said they were indebted to the organisation for the assistance they were receiving.
“My only source of livelihood was affected when the country in March was put under strict lockdown due to the virus.
“It became difficult for me to feed my nine children and in most cases, we could sleep on empty stomachs as it was difficult to eke out a living,” said a widow Janet Mukwendi, a vendor.
For participating local shop owners, the WFP programme is now pushing up the entrepreneurs’ profits.
Commenting on the progress, Nevill said WFP is targeting to feed half a million urbanites by March next year.
“Currently, the programme is benefiting 327 000 people around the country every month and according to projections, at least 4 million people in urban areas by March will be food insecure and the organisation is targeting to scale up the programme to ensure half a million people will be added to the programme.
“We are appealing to the international community to chip in to enable us to continue with the programme and meet our target,” she said.
Zimbabwe is reeling from recurrent droughts with high unemployment rates and an unstable economy that has pushed many into informal work.
Since the onset of Covid-19 in March, the sector was greatly affected when the government temporarily shut down the economy in response to the global pandemic, leaving millions on the verge of starvation.