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Zimbabwe Faces Worst Food Shortages In 4 Years, WFP Warns

“Zimbabwe faces its worst food shortages in four years following a drought and poor harvest, the U.N. World Food Programme [WFP] said on Tuesday, a month after veteran President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF disputed re-election,” Reuters reports (Chinaka, 9/3). “An estimated 2.2 million people [in Zimbabwe] are expected to need food assistance by early next year before the harvest period in March, the [WFP] said” Tuesday, the U.N. News Centre writes, adding, “The predicted levels of hunger, released by the U.N.-supported Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee, would be the highest since early 2009, when more than half the population required food support” (9/3). “To meet the increased needs, WFP and its partners will provide regionally procured cereals as well as imported vegetable oil and pulses,” the agency states in a press release (9/3). “The [WFP] said Tuesday additional food handouts will start next month and will be scaled up until the next harvests in March,” according to the Associated Press/Washington Post.

“The agency said rising hunger, mostly in southern districts, was caused by erratic weather, the high cost and shortages of seed and fertilizer in the troubled economy and a 15 percent rise in prices for the corn staple after poor harvests this year,” the AP notes (9/3). “The government blames the shortages on poor rains while critics attribute the low yields to President Robert Mugabe’s land reforms,” Agence France-Presse writes (9/3). In similar news, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday warned “[a]bout 11 million people in the Sahel are still severely food insecure” and “is appealing to the international community to increase funding for aid to the most vulnerable farmers and herders in the region south of the Sahara,” the organization reports in a press release (9/4).