By Costa Nkomo
A day after President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the country’s hunger situation a state of disaster, the US government reacted first, pouring some US$45 million as relief for the acute food shortages facing the Southern African country.
At least six million Zimbabweans are facing starvation especially during the peak hunger season between October and March next year.
The United Nations, Tuesday launched a US$331.5 million international aid appeal to help Zimbabwe tackle a crippling drought which has left millions facing hunger and in need of relief for the next nine months.
In his address at the launch of the appeal, Tuesday, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols said his country has become the leading contributor to humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe.
“The United States remains the largest bilateral donor to emergency humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe and we are proud to be part of a coordinated response to the humanitarian situation,” Nichols said.
“We work closely with the UN and other donors to ensure that as many communities as possible are covered during this challenging time.”
Zimbabwe is facing acute food shortages despite officials claiming the country sunk some US$3.2 billion some of it to ghost people into the agricultural sector under a shadowy programme known as Command Agriculture.
Added Nichols: “The United States has allocated US$45 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide food rations and cash transfers to purchase food for 360,880 Zimbabweans.
“These food and cash distributions will help improve the nutrition of vulnerable Zimbabweans and alleviate suffering for those affected by food insecurity.”
Last month, the US poured a total of US$8 million towards the Cyclone Idai victims after the tropical storm ripped through the south eastern parts of the country, killing 400 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
Poor weather conditions in Zimbabwe, including erratic rainfall and long dry spells, have contributed to increased humanitarian needs across the country.
At least 59% of the country’s rural population will need food aid with government having recently announced it has begun giving rations in towns and cities.