Food aid distribution to vulnerable communities begins

Blessings Chidakwa-Herald Reporter

THE Government has begun the distribution of food aid to vulnerable communities countrywide to counter the adverse effects of the El Niño-induced drought.

Due to the El Niño weather conditions, the country has received inadequate rains this season and farmers across the country have watched their crops wilt due to extended dry periods.

But Government is on top of the situation, having put in place a cocktail of measures to mitigate the situation.

In an interview Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said Government was pulling all the stops to counter the adverse effects of El Niño.

“For the vulnerable households, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare is assisting them. The ministry is accessing about 21 000 tonnes monthly for distribution to vulnerable households.

“So, in drought-prone areas let the people approach their District Development Coordinators for registration so that they can access aid,” he said.

Deputy Minister Haritatos said Government is improving the country’s irrigation facilities to counter the effects of climate change. He said dams have enough water for irrigation during the winter season.

In a statement, Zinwa head corporate communications and marketing manager Mrs Marjorie Munyonga said as part of the drought response measures, the Authority is already closely monitoring water use patterns in the dams across the country to ensure early detection of vulnerable areas.

“The authority encourages farmers and all those intending to draw water from national dams to ensure that their water use is in terms of water abstraction agreements as required by the law. This will ensure efficient, orderly, and well-coordinated allocation and utilisation of the available water.

“Zinwa shall also be embarking on an intensive awareness campaign to help communities appreciate the extent of the drought and the part they can play in mitigating its effects through efficient use of water,” she said.

Mrs Munyonga said Zinwa is also drilling boreholes across the country to help alleviate the water situation in both rural and urban areas, under the auspices of the Presidential Rural Development Programme.

“As of February 22, 2022, a total of 2 658 boreholes had been drilled under the Presidential Rural Development Programme which is aimed at having a borehole drilled in each of the 35 000 villages in Zimbabwe. A further 77 boreholes have also been drilled as part of the cholera response programme to improve access to water by communities in cholera hotspots,” she said.

According to a report released by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Zimbabwe has 240 000 tonnes of grain in the Strategic Grain Reserve which is enough to take the country to the next harvest. Private players are also complementing Government stocks through the importation of maize duty-free.

Recently, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister July Moyo said plans are in place to assist affected people with food aid with his ministry compiling a list of those exposed to hunger. 

Minister Moyo said those who did not harvest enough grain in the previous season, mostly from drought-prone areas, will be the first to be allocated grain.

“The Government is fully aware that some areas and districts did not do well in terms of crop production and productivity because of the El Nino effect. However, the Government will not let anyone die of hunger,” he said.

“We have reserves from the 2022/23 season which will be used to feed those in need. While some districts or areas didn’t do well, other areas did well and we will avail food aid to those in need of assistance.”

To increase irrigation-fed agriculture, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri revealed that there is a need to develop more irrigation facilities around the huge water bodies that are in the country.

“The situation about climate change is unprecedented and we must develop our irrigation to climate-proof our agriculture at a larger scale.

“Irrigation schemes are now pivotal in the face of climate change. We have 460 irrigation schemes dotted around the country. We have the capacity in the country to irrigate 220 000 hectares.

“We still need to develop more irrigation around the huge water bodies that we have. Irrigation and harnessing water are currently key things which we must preach about,’’ he said.

Zimbabwe has not been spared from the effects of climate change hence the Government has introduced a raft of home-grown solutions aimed at making sure the country has enough food.

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