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USAID wary of food politicisation ahead of crunch 2023 election campaigns

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By Darlington Gatsi 


USAID says it has put modalities in place to guard against food monopoly by political parties in rural areas ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The World Food Programme (WFP) Thursday received US$36 million worth of food aid from USAID which will be distributed to rural areas that are facing food shortages.

USAID director for Humanitarian Assistance and Resilience, Marialice Ariens, said systems are in place in collaboration with WFP and Government to make sure food aid reaches intended beneficiaries.

“The United States government takes targeting seriously. We have key beneficiary criteria when we decide who we are going to assist. WFP also has validation exercise, so a follow up post the initial target to make sure that people targeted are indeed the most vulnerable will be done,” said Marialice Ariens.

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Zimbabwe is facing a food crisis that has been necessitated by the Russia-Ukraine war which has disturbed chain of supply of grains into the country.

Food crisis is further compounded by the collapsing economy, rendering the cost of living out of reach for many.

According to WFP, 3 million people are projected to face acute food shortage in the first quarter of 2023 owing to rainfall challenges.

Opposition has on numerous occasions accused ruling party Zanu PF of weaponizing food aid to garner support in rural areas.

WFP head of programme in Zimbabwe, Roberto Borlini said the organisation will continue to put more efforts in bettering the lives of people through food aid.

“WFP and the United States are committed to supporting humanitarian and social assistance for those who need it in Zimbabwe,” said Borlini.

“While we will provide short-term assistance during this lean season, we will also continue creating livelihood opportunities, to increase the purchasing power of families, enabling them to meet their food needs.”