Food aid beneficiaries increase
THE Government has increased food aid distribution to vulnerable people in Bulawayo from 3 000 to 14 000 as the drought situation coupled with unemployment continue to bite.
Bulawayo Provincial Social Welfare officer Mr Chriswell Nyakudya said the Government increased the number of beneficiaries after realising that more people were in need of assistance.
He said the economic situation was pushing locals into further poverty and cited the closure of companies and an increase in joblessness as major poverty driving factors. Mr Nyakudya said starting this month, the social welfare department is expecting to distribute 714,5 tonnes of maize monthly, up from 156,6 tonnes.
“We’ve increased the number of beneficiaries to 14 301 from 3 000. The director of social welfare has approved these numbers and we’re now waiting for the Grain Marketing Board to confirm that it will be able to distribute maize starting this Wednesday (today),” he said.
Mr Nyakudya said even after increasing the number of beneficiaries, his office still believes more people need assistance. He said industries were shutting down, leaving more residents in need of food aid.
Mr Nyakudya said the Government has started training urban vulnerability assessment teams which will provide scientific research statistics on people needing food aid.
“The urban vulnerability assessment committee is supposed to provide expert evidence on people needing assistance in urban areas. They are being trained in Bulawayo before being deployed to the ground,” he said.
Mr Nyakudya said expert findings would complement efforts to eradicate hunger.
“When the President declared that drought was a national disaster, more focus was given to eight rural provinces because of the report he received from those provinces. So the coming up of the urban vulnerability assessment committee will provide a clear picture of the situation in Bulawayo and Harare provinces,” he said.
The Rural Livelihoods Assessment report by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC) saw the Government disbursing more than $2.1 million to support the vulnerable in rural areas during the first half of 2016.
Mr Nyakudya said the social welfare department will be reintroducing harmonised cash transfers this month after they were suspended in February.
He said the harmonised cash transfer system was suspended following the drying up of coffers.
Mr Nyakudya said the Government would reintroduce harmonised cash transfers in partnership with foreign donors.
He said the fund targets families with children as it is sensitive towards the protection of children.
Mr Nyakudya called on civic society organisations and the business sector to increase their visibility in communities and assist the vulnerable.
He said the prevailing economic environment made it challenging for the Government to do it alone. —