February 2, 2023

USAID boosts support to Zimbabwe through resilience-building

Clive Makumbe

Harare, Zimbabwe – United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has poured US$5.7 million towards the the United Nations World Food Programme’s efforts to help people who are vulnerable to food insecurity in urban and rural areas of Zimbabwe.

Which means USAID’s contribution towards resiliance building is over US$45 million since last year.

Urban populations will be the major beneficiaries of this through WFP’s Urban Resilience Building Programme  which aims to reach 140,000 households across 19 urban domains.

Moreover, 14,000 rural households in eight districts will be given support through WFP’s Food Assistance for Assets Programme.

These 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.”

It is said urban areas are the most hard hit, where 42% (percent) of the population are deemed to be food insecure, many impacted by the loss of informal jobs. Innovative projects like hydroponics will be stablished in and around citieswhich 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.

Recently, the WFP said it is seeking $65 million in the coming six months to ease food insecurity in Zimbabwe.
The U.N. agency says its assessment shows that more than 5 million people in the southern African nation are looking at food shortages in coming months.

The latest 2021 rural Zimbabwe vulnerability assessment committee rural report indicates that 2.9 million people in
rural areas – that’s 27% of rural households – continue to be food insecure during the peak lean season between January and March 2022. In urban areas up to 2.4 million people are expected to be food insecure according to the latest 2021 urban livelihoods assessment.

Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of the region, has for years been facing food shortages, forcing it to rely on  humanitarian organizations such as World Vision, USAID and the WFP to feed the people.