MORE than 4 million Zimbabweans are set to be in need of food aid between January and March next year, United Nations has said.
The new figures comes at a time when the Humanitarian Response Plan meant to alleviate mass starvation is currently facing a deficit of $173 million after the number of people in need of food aid increased to four million from the original 2,8 million.
Hard hit areas are Matabeleland North with 413 456 people expected to be food insecure at the peak of the hunger period. In Manicaland, at least 761 084 people are expected to be food insecure, Masvingo with 738 291 people, Midlands 633 520 people, Mashonaland East 497 739, Mashonaland West 289 107, Mashonaland Central 456 218 and Matabeleland South 281 818.
Communication specialist at the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office, Sirak Gebrehiwot, said about 2,2 million people require immediate food assistance and this is expected to increase to 3,3 between October and December, with the figure eventually peaking to 4,1 million between January and March 2017.
“Currently, some 1,5 million have been receiving humanitarian assistance from combined efforts of government, the UN and other humanitarian partners. The United Nations, through the current Humanitarian Response Plan (April 2016-March 2017), presently under review to accommodate the latest findings by ZimVac, has thus far raised US$187 million from the initial requirement of US$360 million,” Gebrehiwot is quoted saying.
Estimated crop production for the 2015/16 cropping season is expected to be less than 50 percent of last year’s harvest, meaning that government will have to import over one million tonnes of grain.
The lean season is projected to start earlier than anticipated in September and end later than usual in April due to the El Nino-related impacts.