The United Nations on Thursday called for some 200 million U.S. dollars in extra funding to help four million Zimbabweans unable to buy food due to drought and triple-digit inflation.
An aerial photo shows fish flipping in the mud at a drying watering hole in the Hwange National Park, in Zimbabwe, November 12, 2019. (Photo: VCG)
The southern African country has been hit by a poor harvest and an entrenched economic crisis that has rendered basic goods out of reach for most people.
"The food security situation in Zimbabwe is very dire," said Eddie Rowe, the World Food Programme (WFP) country director, during a press briefing in the capital Harare.
"For us to implement this programme, reaching 4.1 million people from January up to April and then 1.5 million from May to June, it will cost us a total of 293 million U.S. dollars," Rowe said.
He said WFP had so far only received 30 percent of the amount.
Zimbabwe is experiencing one of the worst droughts in history, blamed on the effects of the El Nino weather cycle. In addition, the former regional breadbasket is in the throes of its worst economic crisis marked with galloping inflation.
The serious inflation has wiped out savings, and most of the country's 14.4 million inhabitants have been unable to keep up with rising prices.
A WFP survey found that 77 percent of people in urban areas could no longer afford a standard meal.
"Households are sliding towards the severe category of food insecurity," said Rowe, adding that "If we do not provide some form of assistance, we certainly have a crisis in our hands."
The government said earlier this year that around half the population would require food aid between February 2019 and March next year.
Zimbabwe is facing one of the most serious food crises in its history, according to a statement issued by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party.
It's said that for the first time ever, a huge 2.2 million people will require food assistance in the urban areas.
Production of maize, a national staple, fell by 54 percent as a result of the drought, according to the MDC.
The UN estimates that a total of 5.5 million people in the countryside and 2.2 million in urban areas are currently in need of help.