When crops fail – because of drought, floods or warfare – people go hungry and communities suffer. Sometimes, entire regions share in the suffering. Food and nutrition issues can affect anyone living in poverty or at the mercy of the weather to make a living. One bad season can be enough to drive entire communities to the brink of survival.
In Zimbabwe, almost 1.7 million people will need food assistance in 2011 and 133,000 metric tonnes of food aid is required to feed them, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme.
Adverse weather and severe economic constraints; deteriorating infrastructure, especially in irrigation; and unfavourable government policies are just some of the factors contributing to food insecurity in Zimbabwe.
Basic food costs for the average family of five in Zimbabwe are double the average monthly income. Some 90 percent of people are unemployed according to UN reports, with the majority of people relying on informal employment and assistance from non-government organisations.
In the Insiza district of southern Zimbabwe, sisters Beauty, aged four and Belinda, aged three, have been eating only one meal per day, often due to the generosity of neighbours. In poor health, their 87-year-old grandfather Ameki struggles to care for the girls with their mother away in South Africa in search of work.
“It pains me so much that I can’t even afford to help these children,” said Ameki.
World Vision is working with the World Food Programme to distribute food to some 117,000 people in six districts across Zimbabwe, including Insiza District. Now Beauty and Belinda can eat three meals per day, due to regular World Vision food distributions.
“We are very thankful. Otherwise we would have died if we did not get this aid,” said Ameki.