A latest United Nations report has rated Zimbabwe as one of the top global food crises with an estimated 4.3 million rural Zimbabweans, including children, facing food insecurity in 2020.
The report which was jointly released by the European Union, FAO, UNICEF, USAID and the World Food Program (WFP), said it anticipates a worsening food insecurity situation in the southern African country.
Coupled by the impending Covid-19 national lockdown, contributing factors to the situation that Zimbabwe finds itself in include environmental factors and prevalent economic woes such as unrestrained hyperinflation, liquidity challenges, widespread poverty, high levels of HIV/Aids and an agonisingly stunted performance by the agrarian sector.
According to the report, ‘millions of Zimbabweans are already struggling to put food on the table, having faced prolonged drought and economic hardship for some time.”
“It is imperative that we unite, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe and provide urgent food assistance safely to prevent an already vulnerable population from slipping deeper into this hunger crisis,” WFP Country Director and Representative Eddie Rowe said.
UNICEF Representative, Laylee Moshiri weighed in saying food crises have a major impact on the “quality, frequency and diversity of children’s diets and this is compounded by the inability for families across the country to provide adequate childcare during these increasingly challenging times,”
“During this COVID-19 pandemic we must act decisively to continue essential nutrition and health services for all children.”
The perrenially struggling African country also counts amongst the world’s 10 countries where less than 20% of children between 6-23 months received a minimally adequate diet further compromising their lifelong quality of life, says the report.
According to FAO Representative Jocelyn Brown Hall, food insecurity could also be accentuated by measures to curb the further spread of the catastrophic Covid-19 pandemic. This, Brown-Hall said, is created by restricted access to markets by both farmers and consumers plus a glut of perishable nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables.
Zimbabwe is currently in its fifth week of the extended 35-day national lockdown expected to end this Sunday. It is not yet clear whether Mnangagwa will lift or extend the lockdown he put in place to mitigate the spread of coronavirus which has so far claimed 4 lives and infected 31.