By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THE European Union (EU) has mobilised an additional 16.8 million EUR (US$18.7 million) to help address emergency food needs and support millions of vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.
The funding comes as large parts of the country and the SADC region are in the grip of one of the harshest drought periods in decades.
The food crisis has been compounded by governance challenges and a worsening economic situation in Zimbabwe.
Addressing a press conference in Harare Thursday, Janez Lenarčič, the EU’s Commissioner for Crisis Management said the funding for Zimbabwe was part of a larger support package of over $US24.5 million for the SADC region.
The remaining amount will be channelled towards providing food assistance and nutrition support in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Madagascar, Lesotho and Zambia.
“Many poor households in drought-affected areas in southern African countries are struggling to have enough food due to crop failure, reduced access to water and, in some places, unaffordable food prices in markets,” Lenarčič said.
“EU humanitarian aid will help deliver food to those most in need and tackle the hunger crisis in fragile rural communities.
“Since January 2019, the EU has allocated a total of $US75.75 million for humanitarian assistance across the region.
“The bulk of this funding went for emergency relief assistance in the wake of natural disasters (cyclones Idai and Kenneth), food assistance, and helping at-risk communities equip themselves better to face climate-related disasters,” the EU official said.
In addition to providing food and nutrition, the funds will improve access to basic health care and clean water, and provide protection to counter the risks that people’s fragility exposes them to.
In Zimbabwe, over eight million people, half of the country’s population, are at risk of severe hunger if the United Nations fails to avail over US$200 million required for aid relief.