By Moses Mugugunyeki
More than 26 000 drought-stricken villagers in Gokwe North district in the Midlands province last week received relief aid in the form of food from the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS), as part of the organisation’s emergency appeal.
The project, dubbed Emergency Assistance to Communities in Zimbabwe Affected by the Food Security Crisis, is being implemented by the ZRCS, with support from the Finnish Red Cross, Danish Red Cross and the European Union – Humanitarian Aid.
Apart from Gokwe North, the project is also being implemented in Binga and Siakobvu in Matabeleland North and Mashonaland West provinces respectively, reaching out to over 76 500 people.
According to 2019 ZimVac, 21% of the rural population (5,5 million people) in Zimbabwe was food-insecure in June last year in and the figure had since risen to 59%.
ZRCS secretary-general Maxwell Phiri said food insecurity had been exacerbated by erratic rains, hence his organisation’s intervention.
“In light of food insecurity in the country, Red Cross and its partners proposed an intervention strategy that is aimed at providing for the essential needs of the most vulnerable communities in Gokwe North, Kariba and Binga to support them over the expected critical food-insecure period,” Phiri told Sunday Southern Eye.
“The goal of the programme is to alleviate the impact of the food security crisis on the most vulnerable population by addressing immediate nutritional needs.
“Our focus is on providing food assistance to ensure that households are able to increase their daily dietary intake and prevent the vulnerable households from further sliding into much worse food insecurity levels.”
The beneficiaries in Gokwe North’s six wards are receiving maize meal, vegetable oil and sugar beans.
Councillor for Simchembu 1 (Ward 31) in Gokwe North, Mazhambe Sibanda, expressed gratitude for the ZRCS support.
“The emergency appeal is coming at the right time when most villagers have lost hope on their crop,” Sibanda said.
“Most families have resorted to selling livestock to make ends meet, but the livestock is no longer there.
“We also don’t have sufficient land resulting in most families failing to produce enough food.”
A beneficiary, Fenjiwe Ngwenya from Katai village, said the food aid had come at the right time.
“It has come at an opportune time when most of us had nothing to eat. Most villagers hardly have a meal a day,” Ngwenya, a mother of five, said.
“We were relying on wild fruits because we had nothing to eat.”
Phiri expressed gratitude over the support ZRCS was getting from the Finnish Red Cross, Danish Red Cross and the European Union – Humanitarian Aid.