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"WFP Provides Food Aid to Nearly 2.7 Million Zimbabweans Amid Drought Crisis"
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The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) announced on Wednesday that it is collaborating with Zimbabwe’s government and humanitarian agencies to provide food assistance to 2.7 million villagers in response to the drought crisis in southern Africa, exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

The food shortages, affecting nearly 20% of Zimbabwe’s population, are a result of poor harvests in drought-stricken regions that heavily rely on small-scale agriculture. Francesca Erdelmann, WFP’s country director for Zimbabwe, noted that El Niño is expected to exacerbate the situation by causing below-average rainfall for another year.

El Niño is a natural weather pattern characterized by warming in the Pacific, which has global implications. In Zimbabwe, the period from January to March is considered the lean season when rural households face food shortages while awaiting the next harvest. With over 60% of the population residing in rural areas, they are increasingly vulnerable to the cycle of droughts and floods, amplified by climate change.

The country, once a food exporter, now depends heavily on aid due to decreased agricultural production, compounded by the seizure of white-owned farms in the early 2000s. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that 20 million people across Africa, including Zimbabwe, will require food aid between January and March due to El Niño’s effects.

WFP has received an $11 million grant from USAID to support its efforts. Although Zimbabwe’s government claims to have grain reserves until October, many people are still in need due to inadequate harvests and soaring food prices. The situation has also impacted wildlife, with reports of 100 elephants dying in a drought-affected wildlife park last year.

Piers Potter

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