Panafrican News Agency

USAID doubles drought response contribution to $86.9 million to assist Zimbabweans

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA) - The United States government is providing an additional US$41.9 million in funding to respond to the critical food security situation in Zimbabwe, which is predicted to leave half the 14 million population hungry by year end.

The announcement was made in a statement from the US Embassy in Zimbabwe on Tuesday.

“The United States Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an additional US$41.9 million in funding to respond to the critical food security situation in Zimbabwe between October 2019 and April 2020.  The funding will ensure that more than one million rural Zimbabweans have access to adequate food supplies before the next harvest,” said part of the statement.

On August 6, the United States announced US$45 million in funding to the World Food Programme (WFP) to provide food rations and cash transfers.

These food and cash distributions are planned to improve the nutrition of vulnerable Zimbabweans and alleviate suffering for those affected by food insecurity due to the ongoing drought.

The new US funds are in response to the United Nations Flash Appeal of US$331.5 million in humanitarian assistance needed for Zimbabwe between July 2019 to April 2020. 

USAID is expected to work close with the WFP in disbursing these newly announced funds.

“Today’s additional contribution will bring the total U.S. humanitarian funding in response to the 2019/20 lean season to US$86.9 million. These resources are in addition to US$15 million in emergency food security funding from the United States announced in February this year in support of 2018/19 lean season needs under the UN Flash appeal and US$7.9 million in Cyclone Idai response funding,” said the statement.

“These contributions bring the total U.S. contribution to emergency needs in Zimbabwe to $109.8 million in 2019 and make the United States the largest bilateral donor to emergency humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe.”

In addition to this emergency response, USAID’s programmes in Zimbabwe have been revised for long-term food security through building resilience to future shocks.

As a result, the US has set aside US$144 million over seven years to non-governmental partners. 

“USAID has also provided US$20 million over five years through the Feed the Future initiative to Fintrac, Inc. and LEAD Trust to reduce rural poverty and improve food security through increased agricultural production and market linkages for small-scale farmers.”

However, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Brian Nichols said while they recognised that there was currently a need for assistance, humanitarian aid alone was not enough. 

“The root causes of food insecurity and poverty must be tackled for Zimbabweans to end chronic food insecurity for good," he said.

"The United States urges the Government of Zimbabwe to implement a market-based agriculture policy and eradicate corruption in its subsidy programmes, which severely exacerbate the very problems of food insecurity they are purportedly intended to solve."

WFP Zimbabwe Country Director, Eddie Rowe said his organisation would continue to provide critical food and livelihood support to the people who are hardest-hit at a time of unprecedented needs.

Between January to June 2019, US$133 million or 45.5 percent of the priority humanitarian needs had been met with support from development partners and the joint efforts by the humanitarian actors.

This support reached two million women, men and children with critical and life-saving interventions.

-0- PANA TZ/AR 24Sept2019