New York, USA (PANA) - The European Union (EU) Wednesday granted five million euros in financial aid to the Finnish Red Cross (FRC) to support 76,500 food insecure Zimbabweans, an official source told PANA.
This comes as the ongoing drought in southern Africa and macroeconomic challenges are set to leave over half of Zimbabwe's 14 million population hungry by year end.
"Thanks to this financial aid, a total of 76,500 people suffering from food insecurity will be provided with cash donations for buying food.
“Economic difficulties combined with extreme weather conditions and drought, which have worsened due to climate change, have weakened the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe," FRC, in a statement said.
"At present, 4.8 million Zimbabweans suffer from food insecurity, and 2.3 million of them are in urgent need of food aid. The need for aid is highest in rural areas.
“In summer 2019, one in four people living in rural areas were in urgent need of food aid, and it is feared that this figure will increase to 38 per cent, i.e. 3.6 million people, by the end of the year," the statement said.
With the financial aid granted by the EU, the Red Cross will provide aid to the Zimbabwean towns of Kariba, Gokwe North and Binga for nine months.
"The aim is to support families in making it through the period between harvest seasons, from October until March next year, which is critical for food security. In its aid work, the Red Cross focuses on improving the food security of the most vulnerable groups such as young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, elderly people and people with disabilities," FRC said.
FRC International Aid Planning officer Sari Autio added that every month, the Red Cross provided families with a cash donation for buying food and other basic supplies.
“The cash donation is enough to buy roughly ten kilos of cereal plants, 2.5 kilos of legumes and a litre of cooking oil,” Autio said.
“Cash donations are a quick and cost-effective way to help. They encourage families to make personal choices that improve food security and strengthen the local market.”
The five million euros in funding was granted by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
“Usually, such large individual subsidies are only granted to large international organisations. The Finnish Red Cross is known as a strong and capable operator in Southern Africa. We are thankful to the European Commission for the trust they have shown us,” Toni Vasama, advisor of the FRC in financial and EU matters, said.
According to the FEWS NET, a food security department of the United States Agency for International Development, the continued volatility in the Zimbabwean macro-economy is expected to contribute to worsening of food security across the country.
It noted that market dependence was atypically high, specifically for poor households who had limited to no food stocks.
“Additionally, market access to food is significantly below average as households have below average incomes and food prices are significantly above average," FEWS NET said.
"This has led to an atypically high number of households facing crisis across the country with emergency outcomes likely in some households in some of the worst affected areas."
FEWS NET added that international forecasts for the start of the 2019/20 agricultural season were already pointing to delayed and erratic rainfall with below-average cumulative seasonal rainfall across the country.
-0- PANA TZ/RA 9Oct2019