By Staff Writer
THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed US$8.7 million towards resilience building activities for 66 000 food insecure rural Zimbabweans through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
The initiative is designed to meet immediate food needs from May to October in Kariba, Masvingo, Mwenezi, Rushinga and Zvishavane districts.
Participants will receive monthly food baskets consisting of maize meal, cooking oil and pulses such as dried beans and peas.
In exchange they will contribute and participate in the construction, rehabilitation or upgrading of community assets to improve long term food security and resilience which will benefit all community members.
Speaking during the launch of the programme in Harare Wednesday, WFP deputy country director Christine Mendes said: “We are grateful to the U.S. government for its continued support in enabling vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe to withstand the negative impact of climate change and recurrent economic shocks.
“The beauty of transformational activities lies in empowering communities not only to have food today and tomorrow but to prevent and mitigate future food crises, as well reduce humanitarian needs over time, while paving the way toward self-sufficient futures”.
USAID acting mission director Ramses Gauthier, added: “Our longstanding funding for the Food Assistance for Assets program demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment to tackling food insecurity in Zimbabwe.
“We are happy to work with a ready, willing, and capable partner, the World Food Programme, to accomplish this vital task.”
Participants will receive training on insurance and financial inclusion, food processing, business management, and are linked to nearby markets.
They will also support the creation of rehabilitation of small-scale farming infrastructure, village savings and lending groups, as well as provide training on business management.
Meanwhile the country has had a favourable rain this agricultural season however WFP reports that many families remain food insecure.
Some Zimbabwean smallholder farmers live hand-to-mouth due to the cumulative effects of droughts, insufficient livelihoods opportunities, and economic shocks over the years unable to break this cycle of relapses into food crises without support that will bolster their livelihoods.