The International Monetary Fund, IMF has warned that Zimbabwe needs urgent aid as the coronavirus exacerbates the impact a food shortage following the worst drought in nearly four decades.
The southern African nation needs hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid in the coming months to fend off a humanitarian crisis that’s likely to leave more than half of the population hungry, the Washington-based institution said.
“The outbreak has greatly amplified uncertainty and downside risks around the outlook,” the IMF said in an Article IV report, released on Friday. To-date, Zimbabwe has nine confirmed infections and, like much of the region, the government has imposed a lockdown to halt the spread of the virus.
An economic crisis marked by a dire shortage of foreign currency and power supply, coupled with the drought has increased the number of poor people in what was once one of Africa’s most-industrialized countries. The fund estimates that the economy contracted 8.3% last year. The report was largely compiled before the virus reached Zimbabwe.
“Absent a scaling-up of donor support, the risks of a deep humanitarian crisis are high,” the IMF said. Only half of the humanitarian aid requested by the United Nations to help about 8 million people has been pledged, it said.