HARARE (The Southern African Times) -The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a US$5.7 million contribution from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support people experiencing vulnerability to food insecurity across urban and rural areas. This brings USAID’s contributions to over US$45 million over the last year.
Urban populations will benefit from the contribution through WFP’s Urban Resilience Building Programme which aims to reach up to 180,000 households across 19 urban domains. Additionally, 14,000 rural households in eight districts will receive support through WFP’s Food Assistance for Assets Programme. Both programmes will develop community skills and create assets to better prepare communities with sustainable livelihood opportunities – and improve their capacity to cope with shocks such as COVID-19 and climate change.
“The United States will continue to bring critical food assistance to the most vulnerable Zimbabweans,” said USAID Acting Mission Director Zeb Simpson. “At the same time, we are working to equip households and communities with the skills and resources they need to overcome the shocks and challenges they face.”
The situation is of particular concern in urban areas, where 42 percent of the population are estimated to be food insecure, many impacted by the loss of informal jobs. Innovative projects like hydroponics will be established in and around cities- which encourages food production through environmentally sustainable techniques. This will empower communities with the tools required to grow and sell food to generate income as many urban livelihoods have been devastated by COVID-19. Complementary skills building will also be provided to communities such as financial literacy, vocational and digital skills, marketing and micro business management training.
The rural resilience activities will support community-based asset building, promote village savings and lending groups, and provide training on improving crop storage conditions to reduce harvest loss. In exchange for participation, food assistance will be provided to supplement shortfalls during the upcoming lean season.
“We have seen that resilience building activities are key to helping people move beyond a cycle of dependence and as such both programmes aim to improve livelihood opportunities and provide a regular source of food and nutrition security to people experiencing hardship,” said WFP Country Director and Representative Francesca Erdelmann. “Importantly, the programmes are community-led and focus on the development and maintenance of collective assets in addition to valuable life skills such as savings and financial literacy that yield longer-term benefits.”
The contribution comes at a critical time for Zimbabwe, where approximately 5.3 million people across the country are facing food insecurity- despite the bumper harvest this season.
Despite the positive impact resilience building programmes have on communities, WFP operations in Zimbabwe remain underfunded – with US$65 million required over the next six months.