Russia Avails US$1.5 Million For Zim’s Food Assistance

THE Russian Federation has donated an amount to the tune of US$1.5 million for the purchase of over a thousand metric tons (MT) of food to support the affected communities in Hwange, Nkayi and Zvishavane Districts in Zimbabwe.

By Michael Gwarisa

The food items will be distributed by the World Food Program (WFP) in the mentioned three districts amidst indications that some 5.5 million rural people, or 59 percent of the rural population, is at risk and requires emergency food assistance from January to April, the peak of the lean season.

Speaking at the handover ceremony of the food assistance facility, WFP Country Representative Mr Eddie Rowe said the assistance from the Russian Federation had come at a time Zimbabwe was experiencing its worst-ever economic and food security crisis with not less than 7.7 million people (half the national population) likely to experience severe hunger.

The Russian Federation has allowed the World Food Program to successfully support the government of Zimbabwe to deliver vital food assistance to Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable people. As we progress into one of the worst hunger seasons, to date such and contribution and such generous and continued support from you Russia as our partner is sincerely appreciated.

“Allow me to express my gratitude to the government and people of Russian Federation for your unwavering commitment to the fight against hunger and your support to the people of Zimbabwe,” said Mr Rowe.

He added that food insufficiency exposed citizens to some unhealthy coping mechanisms which has long term negative effects on the health and wellbeing of citizens especially women.

“Lack of food can lead people into seeking other coping mechanisms some of which can further deepen the vulnerability of communities. Some families are forced to skip or to reduce the quantity of meals a day much worse, to forgo their preferred food such as sadza.

“Moreso, parents would be forced to take their children out of school or families may be separated as they migrate in pursuit of food. When such things happen, obviously girls and women are the first to be affected. That is why your Excellency, this contribution is absolutely crucial to these communities that are facing drought.”

The US$1.5 million facility for the Federation of Russia has allowed the WFP to purchase wheat, split peas and vegetable oil which would go towards lifting over 100 000 people in Zimbabwe out of hunger.

Even though food insecurity in Zimbabwe is very high in rural areas, indications are that more urban people are currently in need of food assistance in urban food insecurity. Recent urban assessments indicate an additional 2.2 million urban dwellers are also at risk.

Director of Human Resources in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Erasmus Gapara said the drought had affected most rural communities and government was grateful to Russia’s help.

“We greatly appreciate the gesture by the Russian Federation to support the vulnerable members of society particularly the food insecure families. As you aware, Zimbabwe has been hard hit by drought during the 2019 cropping season which has affected rural communities who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

“WFP has been implementing the Lean Season Program, complementing government efforts in proving food assistance to the food insecure households. The government of Zimbabwe appreciates the efforts by the World Food Program and its partners as they support us in providing food assistance to our vulnerable communities,” said Mr Gapara.

Meanwhile, Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe His Excellency Ambassador Nikolai Krasilnikov said Russia stands by Zimbabwe through these trying times and will continue offering assistance to the second republic.

“This assistance was of US$1.5 million is set to contribute to the ongoing improvement of the social economic conditions in Zimbabwe specifically food security that has been heavily affected by the devastating effects of climate change,” said Ambassador Krasilkikov.

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