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Zimbabwe hunger woes to persist beyond 2021, says FEWS NET

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By Leopold Munhende

ZIMBABWEANS shall need more time to free themselves from the current hunger catastrophe with a report by Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) indicating locals may require continued food assistance up to 2021.

The report, shared on FEWS NET’s website, indicates Zimbabwe is an Area of Concern together with neighbour Zambia which is expected to face a near similar crisis.

“The population in need of humanitarian assistance across Southern Africa will remain high throughout 2020,” reads the report in part.

“In worst-affected areas of the region, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist during the post-harvest period.

“In late 2020, at the start of the 2020/21 lean season, FEWS NET anticipates regional food assistance needs will increase even higher than needs during the first quarter of 2020.

“Some poor households in the worst-affected areas are expected to face large food consumption gaps in the absence of humanitarian food assistance.”

Zimbabwe’s crisis, according to FEWS NET, will need higher humanitarian assistance throughout 2020 due to its very poor macroeconomic conditions.

Agricultural activities are also expected to be below average due to very prohibitive crop input prices.

For the first time government started food aid distribution in urban areas.

United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also fed some 19 000 urban households for the first time, highlighting the gravity of a crisis described by UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver as man-made and shocking.

Spiralling inflation, a high unemployment rate and very little pro-poor policies mean very few of Zimbabwe’s close to 12 million citizens afford basic commodities.

The UN put the figure of those in need at 60% of the total population.

Some 5.7 million people are already in need of food aid, according to then Public Service Minister Sekai Nzenza.