October 19, 2019

UN launches new Zimbabwe appeal as millions face food crisis

HARARE: the UN food agency launched an appeal of $ 331 million for donations of aid to feed millions of people in Zimbabwe, hit by the crisis, which is recovering from a drought and the high cost of foods.

According to the World Food Program (WFP), about five million people, or one third of the 16 million Zimbabweans, need help and at least half of them are on the cusp of “hunger.”

Speaking at the launch of the appeal, WFP executive director David Beasley said 2.5 million Zimbabweans were “in emergency crisis mode … marching to hunger.”

He added that by the beginning of next year, 5.5 million in total will be in a similar position.

Former regional economy, Zimbabwe’s economy has been in recession for more than a decade with a perennial food shortage, a currency crisis, commodity shortages and high unemployment.

The government attributes the food shortage to the effects of climate change, while critics say the shortage is the result of a fall in agricultural production after the government’s agrarian reforms.

The last agricultural period was particularly bad since the country was hit by a drought induced by El Niño.

The cyclone, which also affected parts of Malawi and Mozambique, affected 570,000 Zimbabweans and displaced some 50,000 of them.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said last week that the government was feeding hundreds of thousands of people affected by drought in both rural and urban areas, providing grains to 757,000 homes since January.

According to official figures, the country’s inflation rate increased to 176 percent in June, from 97.85 percent in May, and the government has decided to stop publishing inflation statistics over the next six months, which increases fears of hyperinflation of 2008.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa replaced veteran autocrat Robert Mugabe after a military coup in November 2017.

Last year, Mnangagwa won disputed elections, pledging to revive the dying economy, attract foreign investment, create jobs and turn the country into a middle-income economy by 2030.

In January, Mnangagwa announced a 150 percent increase in the price of fuel, which caused protests across the country that left at least 17 people dead and dozens injured when soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters.

Less than three months after the vote, the serious financial problems of the Mugabe era once again persecuted the new leader, when a new two percent tax on electronic transactions in October resulted in a shortage of fuel and commodities such as oil for Cook and bread.

The tax pushed the prices of some foods out of the reach of many.

The increase in January and the five subsequent increases in the price of fuel were intended to alleviate the shortage that has seen long lines, in some cases over a kilometer long, becoming a common sight at fuel stations.

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