Photographer: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg

UN Food Aid in Drought-Hit Zimbabwe Stalls on Dollar Shortages

  • UN agency provides about 300,000 people with funds to buy food
  • WFP may switch to providing food from storage facilities

The United Nations’ World Food Programme has stopped giving some people money to buy food in its initiative that helps 300,000 people affected by drought in Zimbabwe because of the nation’s lack of dollars.

QuickTake Drought

The institution is the latest organization to be hit by the shortage that has prompted the government to delay paying salaries to civil servants and compelled banks to limit the amount of money that can be drawn from cash machines.

The WFP gives a household of four $36 monthly, WFP country director Eddie Row said in an interview Friday in the capital, Harare. Beyond that number, it caps the amount spent on each family at $45 and the program costs about $1 million a month. It planned to increase its distributions this year until the cash shortages began.

“That had been our plan -- to gradually scale up -- until this shock,” Row said . “If we cannot access cash, we will switch to in-kind food, which takes about five days to move” up from a food reserve facility in South Africa’s port of Durban, he said.

Zimbabwe, whose citizens consume 1.5 million metric tons of corn annually, may harvest 700,000 to 1 million tons this year, with imports needed to fill the deficit after the drought. The U.S. Agency for International Development will provide the WFP $10 million to buy grain and will also provide 9,000 tons of corn that should arrive in July, Row said.

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