HARARE – With millions of Zimbabweans devastated by a year of drought, rising hyperinflation and COVID-19, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for an additional $204 million to support over four million of the most food insecure people over the next six months.

The appeal comes ahead of the ‘lean’ season, which risks pushing some 6.9 million people—nearly half of Zimbabwe’s population—into hunger by its March peak, according to the most recent national data. That includes roughly one-third of the rural population, who are expected to face “crisis” or “emergency” levels of hunger, and 2.3 million hungry urban dwellers.  Others are spared from falling deeper into acute hunger thanks to assistance from the U.N. World Food Programme and partners.

“More than half of Zimbabweans in rural areas are left with no choice  but to skip meals, reduce portions or sell off precious belongings in order to cope,” said Francesca Erdelmann, U.N. World Food Programme Zimbabwe representative. “We are deeply concerned that if the U.N. World Food Programme does not receive sufficient funding to reach  four million people, families will be further pushed to the limit.”

The funding would allow the U.N. World Food Programme to provide the minimum amount of emergency food assistance to the most vulnerable 3.5 million rural and 550,000 urban dwellers, complementing the response of Zimbabwe’s government and other partners.

At least 7.6 million people have fallen into poverty this year — a million more than in 2019, according to the recent ZimVAC rural livelihoods assessment. Hyperinflation – a feature of the country’s economic challenges – has pushed the prices of basics beyond the means of most Zimbabweans.

COVID-19’s fallout has exacerbated the situation – making it especially hard for poor families to afford a nutritious diet, with incomes drying up due to the lockdown.

Subsistence farming families, who make up three-quarters of Zimbabwe’s population and produce most of its food, are also hurting because of a third successive drought-hit harvest this year.

While the U.N. World Food Programme delivers and saves lives with urgently needed humanitarian assistance, its work in Zimbabwe links with a strong resilience agenda to forge and protect developmental gains.

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The U.N. World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media @WFP_Africa @WFP_Zimbabwe

For more information, contact:

Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mob. + 1 929 289 9867, shaza.moghraby@wfp.org
Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mob.  +1 202 770 5993, steve.taravella@wfp.org

HARARE – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today commenced cash disbursements in the scale up of the Urban Social Assistance program thanks to funding from the United States through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID’s support will provide relief for vulnerable families in eight urban areas across Zimbabwe struggling to meet their daily food needs due to the effects of COVID-19. USAID and the U.N. World Food Programme are meeting the needs of people living in Gokwe, Redcliff, Kwekwe, Ruwa, Chinhoyi, Buhera, Chipinge and Chegutu.

The financial assistance from USAID allows the U.N. World Food Programme to provide support to over 103,700 people with monthly cash-based assistance equivalent to $12 each, enabling them to meet almost two-thirds of their daily food requirements for the next six months. USAID and the U.N. World Food Programme will reach the most vulnerable and food insecure families, particularly women, people who are unemployed, and people suffering from chronic illness or disability.

COVID-19 is aggravating Zimbabwe’s already severe climate-and recession-induced food security crisis, threatening to deepen and widen it. U.N. World Food Programme projections indicate that by year’s end, the number of food insecure people will have surged by nearly 50 percent to 8.6 million – a staggering 60 percent of the population. In urban areas, where ongoing lockdown measures have triggered a massive loss of livelihoods, the number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 3.3 million, from 2.2 million, as the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic become more pronounced.

“The United States remains committed to the people of Zimbabwe. In addition to the $10 million we have provided to support the cash transfers for over 103,700 vulnerable Zimbabweans in eight urban areas, we are providing over $60 million to support food distributions for nearly one million people in rural areas during the current lean season. During the pandemic, we will continue to prioritize our critical health and humanitarian assistance activities,” said USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Mr. Art Brown.

In Zimbabwe, the lockdown measures have led to the shutdown of informal food markets, and as a result, informal workers struggle to find work, while access to food has become a key challenge for poor urban households.

“Today we have expanded our urban social assistance program to ease the challenges faced by urban communities, which have been worsened by COVID-19.  We are grateful to USAID for its support in such a time as this,” said Francesca Erdelmann, U.N. World Food Programme Zimbabwe Representative and Country Director.

The U.N. World Food Programme’s  Urban Social Assistance program is scaling up to reach 326,004 people in 22 vulnerable urban domains in September, from its target of 292,865 people across 19 urban areas in August.

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The U.N. World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change. | Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media and @WFP_Zimbabwe

Contact: Tatenda Macheka, WFP/ Harare, Mob. +263 773 955 571

ROME/JOHANNESBURG – With COVID-19 aggravating an already severe hunger crisis in Zimbabwe, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for an additional $250 million to support a rapidly expanding emergency operation for millions at-risk.

U.N. World Food Programme projections indicate that by year’s end, the number of food insecure Zimbabweans will have surged by almost 50 percent to touch 8.6 million – a staggering 60 percent of the population – owing to the combined effects of drought, economic recession and the pandemic.

“Many Zimbabwean families are suffering the ravages of acute hunger, and their plight will get worse before it gets better,” said Lola Castro, the U.N. World Food Programme’s Regional Director for Southern Africa. “We need the international community to step up now to help us prevent a potential humanitarian catastrophe.”

A nationwide lockdown, reinforced last week, has precipitated massive joblessness in urban areas, while rural hunger is accelerating because now unemployed migrants are returning to their villages and the absence of the vital remittances they provided is more keenly felt.

Subsistence farming families who make up three-quarters of Zimbabwe’s population and produce most of its food are also hurting because of a third successive drought-hit harvest this year. It yielded only 1.1 million metric tons of corn, the staple cereal, well down on last year’s already poor 2.4 million metric tons and less than half the national requirement. This, in turn, presages even more severe hunger in early 2021, the peak of the next “lean” season.

Hyperinflation is a feature of the country’s profound economic crisis and has pushed the prices of basics beyond the means of many Zimbabweans. Last month, corn prices more than doubled in Harare, the capital. Increasingly desperate families are eating less, selling off precious belongings and going into debt.

With corn set to be an increasingly untenable crop in many arid regions of the country as temperatures rise, the U.N. World Food Programme is promoting the cultivation of drought-resistant, nutritious and indigenous alternatives like sorghum and millet. This is part of a broader campaign to help vulnerable communities build resilience to increasingly frequent and severe climate shocks.

Donations permitting, the U.N. World Food Programme intends to assist 4 million of the most vulnerable people this year – those suffering “crisis” and “emergency” hunger – and scale up to 5 million in January-April next year, the peak of the lean season.

As the already dire situation worsens, more contributions are urgently needed. This month, for lack of funding, the U.N. World Food Programme will only reach 700,000 of 1.8 million intended recipients.


Photos and video available here and more available on request.

Story of a mother from Harare available here.

The U.N. World Food Programme is grateful to donors supporting its emergency response to COVID-19 in Zimbabwe, including the United States, the United Kingdom, CERF, the European Commission, France, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany.

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The U.N. World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter: @WFPUSA, @wfp_media, @wfp_Africa, @wfp_zimbabwe

HARARE – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed an additional $10 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for families in urban areas of Zimbabwe struggling to meet their daily food needs due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The contribution will assist almost 100,000 people with monthly cash transfers equivalent to $13 each, enabling them to meet almost two-thirds of their daily food requirements.

A September 2019 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report said that more than 2.2 million people in cities and towns faced food insecurity, not least because of surging prices. COVID-19 has exacerbated economic instability, significantly impacting urban residents already living hand to mouth, many of them working multiple jobs in the informal sector. The U.N. World Food Programme forecasts that by March next year at least 3.3 million people – almost half (47%) the country’s urban population – will be food insecure.

“This additional funding underscores the strong commitment of the American people and government to the people of Zimbabwe,” said US Ambassador Brian A. Nichols.

“This generous and timely contribution will help alleviate the suffering of a large number of people struggling to cope with the twin shocks of COVID-19 and a still deteriorating economy,” said Eddie Rowe, the U.N. World Food Programme Zimbabwe Representative and Country Director.

The U.N. World Food Programme is scaling up its urban assistance program to deliver monthly cash transfers to at least 550,000 Zimbabweans in 20 of the country’s most food insecure urban areas.

Read more about how the U.N. World Food Programme’s urban assistance helps families in Zimbabwe here.

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The United Nations World Food Programme saves lives in emergencies and changes lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media, @wfp_zimbabwe

For more information please contact (name.surname@wfp.org): Claire Nevill, WFP Harare, Tel.+263 787 200 557

HARARE – With Zimbabwe’s already severe climate- and recession-induced hunger crisis deepening and COVID-19 taking hold, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urgently needs $130 million to sustain through August an emergency operation to prevent millions of the country’s most vulnerable people plunging deeper into hunger.

A recent nationwide assessment – the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) – shows that the number of acutely food insecure Zimbabweans has risen to 4.3 million, from 3.8 million at the end of last year.

“With most Zimbabweans already struggling to put food on the table, the COVID pandemic risks even wider and deeper desperation,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s Country Director. “We must all do our utmost to prevent this tragedy turning into a catastrophe.”

WFP assistance in recent months has helped ease hunger in six of nine districts classified late last year as suffering “emergency” food insecurity (IPC 4), allowing them to be downgraded to the less severe “crisis” level (IPC 3). However, 56 of the country’s 60 districts are now categorized as experiencing “crisis” hunger. WFP supports communities afflicted by “crisis” and “emergency” food insecurity.

WFP is planning to assist 4.1 million people in April, although insufficient funding has prevented it from achieving the same monthly target since the turn of the year. In March, it reached 3.7 million of the most vulnerable Zimbabweans.

The total number of food insecure people stands at 7.7 million, more than half the population. The $130 million being urgently sought by WFP is part of a total food assistance sector requirement of $472 million through December.

Cereal production in 2019 was half that of 2018, and less than half the national requirement. Experts predict that the upcoming 2020 harvest will be even poorer. Most of Zimbabwe’s food is produced by subsistence farmers who dependent on a single, increasingly unreliable rainy season.

With unprecedented hyperinflation having pushed the prices of staples beyond the means of most Zimbabweans, increasingly desperate families are eating less, selling off precious belongings and going into debt.

COVID-19 threatens to exacerbate Zimbabwe’s dire economic and hunger crises, drastically affecting the lives of people in both urban and rural areas. WFP has a critical role to play by sustaining its scaled-up food assistance program – and must be able to deliver at full capacity – while supporting the country’s response to the pandemic.

It is pre-positioning three months’ worth of food and cash assistance, rolling out new risk-control measures at distributions – increasing their number to prevent overcrowding, initiating handwashing and monitoring social distancing – and launching a communications campaign to convey essential health and safety information.

Photos available here and video available here.

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The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter: @WFPUSA, @wfp_media, @wfp_Africa and @wfp_zimbabwe

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

  • Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob. +1 202 770 5993
  • Shada Moghraby, WFP/New York, Tel. + 1 646 556 6914, Mob. +1 929 289 9867

Rome – Escalating hunger needs in sub-Saharan Africa dominate a World Food Programme (WFP) analysis of global hunger hotspots in the first half of 2020 with millions of people requiring life-saving food assistance in Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region in the coming months.

The sheer scale and complexity of the challenges in Africa and other regions will stretch the resources and capacity of WFP and other agencies to the limit.  Ramping up the humanitarian response will again require the generous support of donor governments to fund the assistance required to save lives and support development.

“WFP is fighting big and complex humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP. “In some countries, we are seeing conflict and instability combine with climate extremes to force people from their homes, farms and places of work. In others, climate shocks are occurring alongside economic collapse and leaving millions on the brink of destitution and hunger.”

The WFP 2020 Global Hotspots Report highlights grave challenges in sub-Saharan Africa over the next six months with Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region standing out when it comes to the needs of hungry children, women and men. The WFP report notes that amidst an imploding economy, the situation in Zimbabwe is increasingly precarious as the country enters the peak of its “lean season” when food is at its most scarce and the number of hungry people has reached its highest point in a decade. WFP is planning assistance for more than 4 million people in Zimbabwe as concerns grow that the impact of a regional drought could drag yet more countries down in the first months of the year.

“Last year, WFP was called upon to bring urgent large-scale relief to Yemen, Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, Burkina Faso and many other crises to avert famine,” said Margot Van Der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies. “But the world is an unforgiving place and as we turn the page into 2020 WFP is confronting new, monumental humanitarian challenges that we need to address with real urgency.”

Hunger Hotspots
  • A rapidly evolving crisis in Haiti is of deep concern at the turn of the year as escalating unrest paralyzes the economy, driving food prices out of reach of many people (+40% between October 2018 and October 2019).  According to a recent IPC survey on food insecurity, this has left 3.7 million people – or one-third of the population – in need of assistance
  • In Asia, Afghanistan faces insecurity combined with drought, leaving more than 11 million people – over a third of the country’s population – severely food insecure.
  • In the Middle East, WFP can look back on its success in Yemen where it scaled up by 50% from providing food assistance to 8 million people a month at the beginning of 2018 to 12 million by the end of the year.
  • As it looks forward into 2020, WFP remains alert to growing food needs in Iraq and Lebanon, where civil unrest and macro-economic crisis are leading to an increase in food insecurity.

WFP estimates it will require more than $10 billion to fully fund all its operations in more than 80 countries around the world in 2020.

“Every year at WFP we plan ahead for the next 12 months and ask for support from the generous governments, private sector institutions and members of the public who help us reach our humanitarian and development goals,” said Beasley.“ As an agency that depends entirely on voluntary donations, we have a responsibility to show WFP can continue to be the most efficient and effective global organization delivering the kind of food assistance that saves lives and changes lives across the world.”

Photos of Hunger Hotspot countries available here.


The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, natural disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org): Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob. +1 202 770 5993

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