By Anna Chibamu
THE United States government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated US$60.55 million through the World Food Programme (WFP) to assist Zimbabwe during its lean season.
In a statement Monday, the US Embassy in Harare said the money will go towards the World Food Programme’s (WFP) 2020/21 Lean Season Food Assistance programme for the troubled country.
According to WFP, more than seven million people in Zimbabwe face starvation and are in urgent need of food aid and these include those living in urban areas, a traditionally self-dependent population.
The lean season assistance begins in August and will feed nearly one million people during the peak of the season – from January to April 2021 according to WFP.
Announcing the aid, American Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols said, “The United States remains committed to responding to the humanitarian situation, providing critical food assistance to Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable, while responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and maintaining essential services.”
In June, USAID announced a US$10 million to ensure that nearly 100 000 people in Zimbabwe’s eight urban areas have access to adequate food supplies between July and December 2020.
A few months ago, WFP made an appeal to the international community to donate aid as Zimbabwe was facing its worst food security crisis in a decade.
WFP Country Director and Representative (OIC), Niels Balzer welcomed the donation.
“WFP would like to thank the American people for their generosity and steadfast commitment to the people of Zimbabwe at this critical time. Our Lean Season Assistance programme addresses the urgent food needs of the most vulnerable Zimbabweans, who are facing a triple threat of climate induced drought, economic crisis, and the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Balzer.
The Zimbabwean hunger situation has been worsened by the combined effects of failed economic and agricultural policies, corruption, consecutive poor agricultural seasons, the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, and now, the Covid-19 pandemic.
The United States has however, committed itself to remaining the largest bilateral donor of emergency humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe.
During the 2019/20 lean season, USAID provided more than $86.9 million to reach more than 1.8 million food insecure Zimbabweans in 22 rural districts throughout the country.
Since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, the United States has invested nearly $3.2 billion in Zimbabwe through projects, including initiatives to increase food security.