WFP helps Zimbabwe consolidate food security

ZimbabweNEWSDAY | 19 March 2015 – The Zimbabwe Zero Hunger Strategic Review, which was held in Harare last week, will assist the World Food Programme (WFP) and other development partners to align their strategies and ensure programming coherence as Zimbabwe fights to consolidate food security in the country, a senior WFP official has said.

 

WFP senior advisor for country strategies Chris Toe, who was in the country for the strategic review workshop, said the organisation wanted to enhance its contribution to food security.

“We firmly believe that unless WFP and other stakeholders can demonstrate how they are collaborating to support countries to achieve their national priorities to end hunger, they cannot make hunger a phenomenon of the past,” Toe said.

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The national vulnerability assessment committee’s (ZimVAC) report released in September last year noted that although the 2014/15 food security situation has improved significantly, some people would not be able to meet their annual food requirements.

Toe said in sub-Saharan Africa, over 200 million – one in every four people – were chronically hungry and 15 of the 19 countries with people experiencing “extremely alarming levels of hunger” were in this region.

“What this means is that the MDG target of reducing by half the proportion of undernourished people by the end of 2015 is within reach, but has not been achieved,” he said.

“It also means that the WFP’s mission to end global hunger will remain unattainable as long as food and nutrition insecurity persists.”

This was confirmed by the Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Christian Katsande who said despite the improved performance of the agricultural sector last year the country was not yet self-sufficient in terms of food production.

“Although there was a marked improvement in the performance of the agricultural sector, and with it the food and nutrition situation last year, the country is yet to regain its self–sufficiency in the major staple cereals,” he said during the official opening of the Zero Hunger Review Validation workshop.

Zero Hunger Challenge is the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s vision for a future where no person would be hungry and everyone enjoyed their right to food with priority given to family farming.

Food and nutrition security remains fragile and subject to natural and economic shocks in Zimbabwe, with chronic and persistent rates of undernourishment.

Katsande said lack of financial resources was a leading cause of food and nutrition insecurity in the country and over 60% of the country’s households were considered poor, with those in the rural areas hardest hit at 76%.

He highlighted that the problems manifested more in children and although Zimbabwe had managed to maintain the level of wasting among children under the age of five at 5%, which was within the internationally acceptable level, there was still a struggle to lower the levels.

The government safety-net programmes are also ongoing in 21 targeted districts, assisting the most vulnerable and labour, constrained households through the harmonised social cash transfer programme that provides monthly cash distribution of between $10 and $25.

Zimbabwe is ranked 156 out of 187 countries according to the 2013 UNDP Human Development Index.

Currently, 72% of the population lives below the national poverty line (less than $1,25 per day).

Some 30% of the rural poor are considered to be “food poor” or “extremely poor”.

According to WFP’s Toe, although the world has made significant progress in reducing hunger over the last 15 years, but at least 805 million people, or one in nine, worldwide do not have enough to eat while 165 million children under five years of age are afflicted by stunting.

Stunting is rated as the worst form of under-nutrition.

Toe said he was happy that Zimbabwe was working around programmatic areas of the Food Security and Nutrition Cluster of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) and had in place specific policies such as the food security and nutrition policy.