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El Nino: Govt to start distributing grain, cash to 7.7 million food insecure Zimbabweans

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By Anna Chibamu


GOVERNMENT says it will urgently start distributing grain and cash to vulnerable rural and urban dwellers as hunger bites in Zimbabwe.

This follows the completion of the household-based village-coordinated rapid vulnerability assessment and the urban Food and Nutrition Council assessment which indicated that half of the Zimbabwean population is in dire need of food aid.

Responding to Parliamentarians during a Q and A session on Wednesday, Lands Minister Anxious Masuka told Speaker Jacob Mudenda that vulnerable urban residents will get cash transfers whilst those in rural areas will receive grain urgently.

Zimbabwe is experiencing one of its worst droughts in 40 years where 75% of crops were affected according to government statistics.

Legislator Desire Moyo questioned how the government intended to feed the 1.7 million urban people facing hunger – these have not been directly affected by previous droughts.

“The Cabinet yesterday announced that 1.7 million urban Zimbabweans are food insecure because of the drought. What is government policy towards the feeding of urban people, taking cognisant that the government previously prioritised the rural folks only?

“We have completed the household-based village coordinated rapid vulnerability assessment conducted by the ministries of Public Service and Lands. Those two have indicated that six million rural people out of 9.2 million will require food assistance from now till March 2025,” Masuka said.

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Further, the minister reported that an urban livelihood assessment had been completed with 1.732 million urban people said to be requiring assistance.

He did not say how much would be given to the affected urban dwellers for the three months.

“For rural people, from now until September/October, the distribution will be 7.5 kg of cereal which might be wheat, maize or traditional grain per person per month.

“That will amount to 46 000 metric tonnes every month.  In the three months, 138 000 metric tonnes will be required but an individual will receive three months’ supply at any given time due to logistical challenges.

“The figure will be 22.5 kgs of cereal for the rural person at each household for the six million people that will require assistance.

According to Masuka, a cash transfer system for urban households will be used.

“Modalities for these will be announced by Public Service Minister July Moyo soon.

“These 1.732 million people will then be given cash and will be able to access that mealie-meal from private players at reasonable prices,” Masuka added.

However, he said to ensure prices’ stability, an indicative price that if a 10 kg bag of roller meal goes above USD 6.5, the government will try and intervene using its institutions.

The Minister told Parliament the government would not pay for milling fees.

Zimbabwe was this past season hit by an El Nino-induced drought leaving over 7.7 million Zimbabweans in dire need of food assistance, amid revelations an additional 4.5 million children would require meals in schools to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

According to the Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment Committee (ZimLAC) Report tabled before Cabinet this Tuesday, 1.7 million people who stay in urban areas will require assistance while a total of 7.7 million people, 51% of the population will require food assistance. This excludes a further 4.5 million who would require school meals.

The President, Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the drought a national disaster.