THE European Union has released an additional US$18.7 million towards the emergency food aid for vulnerable people in Zimbabwe.
In a statement on Thursday, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Ms Janez Lenarčič said the funding comes at a time when large parts of the country and parts of Southern Africa were hard hit by drought, which is reported to be the worst in decades.
“In addition to providing food and nutrition, the funds will improve access to basic health care and clean water and provide protection to counter the risks that people’s fragility exposes them to.
“The funding for Zimbabwe is part of a larger support package of over US$24.5 million, the remaining amount will be channeled to providing food assistance and nutrition support in Eswatini, Madagascar, Lesotho and Zambia.
“Many poor households in drought-affected areas in southern African countries are struggling to have enough food due to crop failure, reduced access to water and, in some places, unaffordable food prices in markets. EU humanitarian aid will help deliver food to those most in need and tackle the hunger crisis in fragile rural communities.”
Ms Lenarčič said the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region as a whole was prone to natural disasters and oscillates between droughts and floods that are destroying harvests and further weakening fragile communities.
“Since January 2019, the EU has allocated a total of US$75.75 million for humanitarian assistance across the region. The bulk of this funding went for emergency relief assistance in the wake of natural disasters (cyclones Idai and Kenneth), food assistance, and helping at-risk communities equip themselves better to face climate-related disasters,” said Ms Lenarčič.
She added that background extensive areas in Southern Africa received in 2019 their lowest seasonal rainfall to date since 1981 when records first began to be held.
“As many as 12 million people in the region are at risk of hunger because of extended periods of below-average rainfall, interspersed with floods, on top of the economic challenges that some countries in the region are grappling with,” said Ms Lenarčič.
In Zimbabwe, 7.7 million people are reported to be at risk of facing food shortages due to drought.