UN Food Agency Seeks $220 Million for Zimbabweans Hit by Drought

  • Programme will give nation's citizens food and cash to buy it
  • Number in need may hit 4 million by March 2017, minister says

The World Food Programme said it’s seeking $220 million to help feed Zimbabweans affected by the southern African country’s worst drought in two decades.

The United Nations agency, which is the biggest global provider of food aid, will both distribute food to Zimbabweans and give them cash to buy their own, Tinashe Mubaira, program spokesman for the country, said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement.

“Though the full impact of El Nino will not be measurable until after the harvest, the drought has already taken a toll, causing the deaths of thousands of cattle and reducing the incomes of people who rely on casual agricultural work to feed their families,” he said. Almost 6 percent of young children in the country are malnourished, he said.

Zimbabwean Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said Tuesday that the number of citizens facing hunger will probably rise to four million by the end of March 2017, when farmers traditionally harvest corn, the staple food. The country consumes about 1.8 million metric tons of corn each year.

The WFP is making increasing use of mobile-money transfer platforms, with more than half a million people currently receiving cash transfers or a combination of cash and food, Mubaira said.

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