December 20, 2010

As Hunger Season Begins in Zimbabwe, So Does Food Delivery

36,000 Zimbabweans Receive Rations to Fight Immediate Hunger

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), an early warning system funded by USAID that monitors food security around the world, estimates that 18 percent of Zimbabwe's population—2.2 million people—are currently food insecure.

Hunger is such a problem that it has its own season: The months of November to March typically constitute the “hungry season” in Zimbabwe because of the food shortfalls between harvests and plantings during the dry season.

As part of a comprehensive USAID response to this hunger situation, ACDI/VOCA's Promoting Recovery in Zimbabwe (PRIZE) project recently began a vulnerable group feeding activity that will last five months and reach approximately 50,000 people.

"We are working hard to meet immediate emergency food needs of vulnerable households,” says ACDI/VOCA program manager Farai Mutibvu, who, between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3, oversaw the distribution of 444 metric tons of food rations to 36,000 people in the districts of Mudzi and Rushinga. In both districts, roughly 30 percent of the population is food insecure.

“The local government and other stakeholders in the districts also have provided considerable support and assistance in reaching so many in such a short period,” Mutibvu says.

Program staff will distribute additional food rations in these districts through the dry season.

Immediate Term: Ease Hunger

The PRIZE program takes a two-pronged approach to reducing chronic food insecurity in Zimbabwe: address immediate hunger needs and invest in longer-term agricultural economic development.

To address immediate hunger needs, ACDI/VOCA staff work with the implementing partner, Community Technology Development Trust, to identify the most vulnerable people in the area communities.

Staff collaborate with local stakeholders to conduct ward-ranking analyses to determine the most food-insecure wards in each district. Beneficiaries then are registered to receive food aid based on these ward rankings.

The food distribution activities aim to strengthen vulnerable households’ short-term food security so members can carry on productive economic activities while conserving assets for next season’s planting.

Longer-term: Invest in Agricultural Development

Zimbabwe also faces significant challenges to overcoming its chronic food insecurity over the long term. The country has a 95 percent unemployment rate, and 68 percent of its population lives below the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook.

As such, ACDI/VOCA and program partners also will implement several longer-term agricultural development initiatives to boost local food supplies, strengthen local markets and increase farmers’ incomes.

“In January, we will begin long-term food security interventions and asset creation to ensure the communities have sustainable food sources,” Mutibvu says.

“We’ll do this through various production-enhancing projects like conservation farming, irrigation scheme rehabilitation and value chain analyses for better marketing and value.”

PRIZE is a consortium, led by Catholic Relief Services, that includes CARE and ACDI/VOCA. The program aims to reduce food insecurity for vulnerable people in eight districts of Zimbabwe: Beitbridge, Bulilima, Gwanda, Mangwe, Matobo, Mberengwa, Mudzi and Rushinga. ACDI/VOCA is responsible for activities in Mudzi and Rushinga.

Learn more about PRIZE.

Learn more about ACDI/VOCA's work in Zimbabwe.

Learn more about our Food Security and Agribusiness programs.