People starve as Zimbabwe drought deepens

Spread This News


MOTHER of four Laiwa Musenza is already reliant on aid from a local NGO to feed her family and Zimbabwe’s drought is only getting deeper.

At a farm on the outskirts of the capital Harare, a queue of children, some as young as three, and a small group of older people gather near two large cooking pans.

A volunteer calls out names from a register and, plate in hand, the hungry take turns to step forward and receive small portions of macaroni and a soybean stew. For most, it is their main, and perhaps only, meal of the day.

The makeshift feeding station was the idea of Samantha Muzoroki and is the newest of five similar centres run by the immigration lawyer’s Kuchengetana Trust. It was started four months ago after parents at the Karibone Farm compound said children were going to bed hungry as a result of crop failure in most parts of Zimbabwe.

Residents at Karibone earn a living from working part-time at neighbouring farms, but this year the farms had no jobs to offer because of the drought.

“We could only manage one meal a day. For those of us with young children it was particularly tough,” said Musenza.

Kuchengetana, which means “looking after each other”, provides two meals to about 1 500 children a day at its five kitchens. But Muzoroki fears that her organisation may be overwhelmed as the drought continues.

“Our movement is donor driven. We have had a huge dip in donations. We are receiving $400 every three months, down from $600, which is way below half of our budget. We try to make sure that every day everyone we cater for is able to get at least a meal a day. The drought is going to affect us in many ways and I hope and pray that it doesn’t lead us to closing any of our centres,” she said.

Zimbabwe is one of a band of countries in Southern Africa experiencing food shortages caused by the drought, which has been exacerbated by the El Niño climate phenomenon.

Last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a state of disaster, saying the country needed at least $2 billion to respond to the drought. At least 7.6 million people, almost half of the population, are in need of aid.

The UN has appealed for $429.3 million in aid. The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) also launched an urgent $84.9 million appeal last month “to provide lifesaving interventions … amid a complex humanitarian crisis exacerbated by water and food shortages”.

“Zimbabwe has been experiencing drought conditions now for a few months with failing harvests in key areas of agricultural production,” Unicef’s Nicholas Alipui said.