By Robert Tapfumaneyi
JAPAN Thursday announced it has committed US$4.5 million for emergency food assistance in response to the critical humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe targeting 56 000 vulnerable people.
The assistance provided through World Food Programme (WFP) will reach the most vulnerable and food insecure households in urban areas.
It will focus especially on women-led households, people with disabilities, and people living with HIV. This will ensure they are able to meet their basic food and nutrition needs.
The funding will cover the urgent food needs of 56 000 people, who will receive monthly electronic vouchers (e-vouchers) for food valued at US$12 per person.
“Since I arrived in Zimbabwe in November last year, my discussions with various counterparts have highlighted the humanitarian crisis facing the country, caused by recurring droughts and the serious economic situation, in which a large proportion of the population are experiencing food shortages,” Japan’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Satoshi Tanaka said.
“After Covid-19 infections surged from December last year and a strict lockdown was enforced this January, vulnerable people, especially in urban areas where many people depend on informal activities such as vending to survive, have been particularly affected.
“Given the severity of the food insecurity situation, the Government of Japan decided to provide this Emergency Grant Aid. It will ensure timely assistance through WFP so that people in dire need in urban areas, especially women-led households, people with disabilities, and people living with HIV, can put food on the table.
“I would like to continue with various kinds of assistance to vulnerable people in Zimbabwe, including supporting the fight against Covid-19.”
WFP Zimbabwe country director Francesca Erdelmann said her organisation welcomed the timely support from Japan, which came at a crucial point in scaling up food assistance to reach more than half a million urban Zimbabweans.
“There’s no doubt about it, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated Zimbabwe’s pre-existing challenges and urban centres are now on the front lines of the current rise in acute hunger,” she said.
“Many families entirely depend upon WFP’s monthly cash transfers, which help people rebound faster into the livelihood they once had. With the valuable support of our partners such as Japan, we will continue to extend our support to cover the food needs of the most vulnerable at this critical time.”
This assistance complements funding of US$ 14.8 million provided by Japan in June 2020 to meet the essential food security needs of vulnerable households in rural areas.
An estimated 5.6 million people are severely food insecure in Zimbabwe.