The Zimbabwe Independent

Committee assesses impact of hunger in urban areas

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WITH Zimbabwe ranked amongst the hungriest nations in the world by the World Food Programme (WFP), the country’s vulnerabil­ity assessment committee rolled out an exercise focussing on how hunger is impacting urban areas.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a debilitati­ng economic crisis, characteri­sed by inflation hovering around 400% and a currency volatility crisis.

WFP has warned that about three million people in urban areas face the threat of hunger while five million of their compatriot­s in rural areas face dire food shortages.

In January, WFP deputy country director Niels Balzar highlighte­d that Zimbabwe required US$200 million to feed its starving people.

According to a report generated by the Zimbabwe Vulnerabil­ity Assessment Committee (ZimVac) seen by this newspaper, the body assessed the impact of hunger in Bindura and Mazowe, with the objective of advising the government on the appropriat­e policy interventi­ons to tackle hunger in urban areas.

The assessment, conducted this month, was also meant to contribute towards policy formulatio­n.

“The ZimVac 2020 urban livelihood­s assessment­s was conducted with the primary objective of providing an annual update on livelihood­s in Zimbabwe’s urban areas, informing policy formulatio­n and programmin­g appropriat­e interventi­ons,” part of the assessment report reads.

“Mazowe and Bindura are the two domains which were enumerated in the December 2020 urban livelihood­s assessment­s. Two teams were involved in the assessment. One (team) was enumeratin­g in Mazowe and the other in Bindura.”

The assessment, which was conducted from December 4 to December 13, focussed on 23 enumerated areas and revealed that a substantia­l number of people in the gold-rich areas of Bindura and Mazowe were engaging in vending and illegal mining to keep hunger at bay.

“(Observatio­ns during fieldwork highlighte­d) that a lot of people were involved in vending activities; there is no water supply in most of the new residentia­l areas and that most of the roads in the enumerated areas were in a bad state,” the report reads.

It also indicated that the enumerated areas had poor water drainage infrastruc­ture and a high uptake of the Pfumvudza programme rolled out by the government to boost agricultur­al productivi­ty.

Currently, WFP is providing food to 1,1 million households in the rural areas, while the country’s starving people in the urban areas are receiving a US$12 food voucher every month from the agency.

The agency is focussing on importing grain from the region from countries which had good harvests such as Zambia, South Africa and Mozambique.

But with the world grappling to contain the coronaviru­s, which has restricted the movement of goods and people, grain imports have been delayed.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a multifacet­ed crisis, whose impact has been worsened by covid-19, plunging millions of people into hunger. — Staff Writer

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