Africa

Red Cross appeals for funds for Zim food crisis

Staff Reporter

The Red Cross on Wednesday renewed its plea for funds for hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in urgent need of food assistance.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Wednesday renewed its plea for funds for hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans in urgent need of food assistance.

According to the most recent figures, an estimated 2,17-million Zimbabweans are currently in need of food aid, and this number is set to rise on the back of an expected failed 2010 harvest.

“In some parts of the country, the food situation is as bad as many of our volunteers and staff have ever seen it,” said Emma Kundishora, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society (ZRCS).

“In Masvingo, for example, the rains didn’t come in time and the crops have already died.”

The ZRCS and the IFRC are particularly concerned about the impact of the existing and looming food crises on people living with or affected by HIV.

“Hunger is an especially brutal experience for these people,” continued Kundishora. “In recent years, for example, we have seen many people default on their ART [antiretroviral treatment] because the drugs are too toxic without food. Once people do this, their situation deteriorates incredibly quickly.”

In December 2009, the ZRCS and the IFRC extended their emergency food operation until October 2010, calling on donors for $33,2-million. However, despite the severity of the situation on the ground, the Red Cross is facing a funding gap of about $23,9-million.

“We’re very concerned about this and the impact it could have on the support we need to provide to families across the country,” said IFRC representative Dr Stephen Omollo.

“Right now, the situation is already critical—more than two million people need direct humanitarian support. And we know that this will get worse as the upcoming harvest already appears to have failed.”

The Red Cross operation aims to support more than 222 000 people. As well as providing food aid, Red Cross volunteers will also work with communities to re-establish water points, and to help them better prepare for future planting seasons through the distribution of agricultural inputs and training.—I-Net Bridge

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