Zimbabwe has been ranked high on the World Food Programme’s (WFP) list of Global Hunger Hotspots for 2020, an indication that the former breadbasket is one of the world’s most critical food emergencies.
According to the WFP 2020 Global Hotspots Report, there are grave challenges in sub-Saharan Africa over the next six months with Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central Sahel facing the biggest crisis.
The WFP report states that Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst drought in decades, with temperatures hitting over 40 degrees Celsius.
“Food production has been severely affected. Driven by climate change the drought is exacerbating Zimbabwe’s severe economic crisis and causing a humanitarian emergency characterised by hyperinflation and rising food insecurity,” read the report.
Food insecurity levels in Zimbabwe are the highest in a decade, with WFP noting that 7.7 million people are food insecure with the 2019 cereal harvest falling more than 50 percent short of needs for the 2019/2020 lean season.
The WFP said it will nearly double its assistance to reach more than four million of the hardest hit Zimbabweans
“It will switch to distributing food in rural areas for January due to concerns over hyperinflation and reduced availability of commodities in rural markets. WFP is supporting efforts to boost communities resilience to crisis from small dams to retain precious water to vegetable gardens to grow crops,” read the report.
WFP executive director, David Beasley, said the organisation is fighting challenging humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020.
“In some countries, we are seeing conflict and instability combine with climate extremes to force people from their homes, farms and places of work. In others, climate shocks are occurring alongside economic collapse and leaving millions on the brink of destitution and hunger,” he said.
The growing hunger needs in sub-Saharan Africa dominate the WFP’s analysis of global hunger hotspots in the first half of 2020 as millions of people require life-saving food assistance.
Due to the complexity of the challenges in Africa and other regions, this stretches the resources and capacity of WFP and other agencies requiring ‘generous’ support of donor governments to fund the assistance required to save lives.
“Every year at WFP we plan ahead for the next 12 months and ask for support from the generous governments, private sector institutions and members of the public who help us reach our humanitarian and development goals,” said Beasley.
“As an agency that depends entirely on voluntary donations, we have a responsibility to show WFP can continue to be the most efficient and effective global organisation delivering the kind of food assistance that saves lives and changes lives across the world.”
WFP Director of Emergencies, Margot Van Der Velden, noted that last year, WFP was called upon to bring urgent large-scale relief to Yemen, Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, Burkina Faso and many other crises to avert famine.
“But the world is an unforgiving place and as we turn the page into 2020 WFP is confronting new, monumental humanitarian challenges that we need to address with real urgency.”