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UK Pledges £9 Million In Food Aid To Zimbabwe

Department For International Development (UK)

UK pledges £9 million in food aid to Zimbabwe

Millions of people facing severe food shortages in Zimbabwe will be helped by £9 million in humanitarian support announced today by International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander.

The funding will go to the World Food Programme (WFP) who will provide food to over four million of the country's poorest and most vulnerable families, including many children.

Alexander also called on Zimbabwe to lift the ban on NGOs and allow much-needed aid to get through to people who desperately need it. Whilst the majority of the £9 million will be used to provide food, a proportion of the funding will be used to strengthen WFP monitoring systems to prevent political interference and ensure the food is received by the right people.

Zimbabwe is facing a deepening humanitarian crisis as a direct result of the general economic collapse, poor governance and a lack of investment in agriculture, combined with poor weather. The country has had the worst crop in fifteen years and has failed to produce sufficient grain to meet the needs of its people. It is estimated that the harvest will only meet around a third of Zimbabwe's food requirements.

The WFP assess that the situation will worsen significantly before the end of the year. The situation will be made more difficult by recent rises in world food prices. In addition, the impact of HIV and AIDS means that families who are already poor and vulnerable will be less able to deal with such difficult times.

The WFP and Food and Agriculture Organisation estimate that up to 5.1m people may need food aid this year.

Announcing the new funding, the Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander, said;

"The ongoing political problems in Zimbabwe should not divert our gaze from the continuing humanitarian disaster. By the end of 2008, up to five million men, women and children could be facing severe hunger and malnutrition. That is why this Government is allocating £9 million to provide food to those people most at risk.

"We are providing aid but Zimbabwe must allow the aid to get through. The continued ban on NGOs is senseless and does nothing but take food away from the mouths of hungry people. For the sake of the millions who are poor and at risk of starvation, I call on Zimbabwe to lift this unnecessary ban and allow aid to get through."

The food will be delivered by the WFP or NGOs. Whilst many NGOs have had their field operations blocked since June 4th, it is hoped that the ban will soon be lifted and they will be able to assist in the delivery of aid. If the ban continues, the WFP will implement contingency plans that will ensure the food is effectively distributed.

The WFP are confident that they will get the food through to those who need it most and are putting in place tough safeguards to protect aid deliveries. No funding or food will go to the Government of Zimbabwe.

The £9 million announced today brings the total UK humanitarian commitments in Zimbabwe since 2001 to over £220 million. The Department for International Development (DFID) will spend £44 million this financial year in Zimbabwe.

NOTES

1. The DFID annual contribution to Zimbabwe is £44 million. This includes support for orphans and vulnerable children, livelihoods support (see PRP below) assistance for displaced people, HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, water and sanitation and essential drugs.

2. DFID is focussed on safeguarding rural livelihoods through the Protracted Relief Programme (PRP), which promotes self reliance and assists poor families to provide for themselves. The PRP will total £50 million over five years (from 2008-2013).

3. As well as support to humanitarian programmes the UK is funding an expanded response to the AIDS crisis and will help support almost 50,000 people on treatment. DFID also provides £25 million for support to orphans and vulnerable children which have reached over 180,000 children.

4. All DFID funding is channelled through the UN and NGOs. No funding goes directly to the Government of Zimbabwe.

5. The Crop and Food Supply Assessment mission (CFSAM), conducted jointly with FAO and the Government of Zimbabwe in May 2008 indicated that last season's production will cover only a third of Zimbabwe's cereal requirements. DFID's contribution will contribute to the feeding of up to 4 million Zimbabweans, including the mobile and displaced in the year ahead.

6. DFID continues to take a flexible approach to Zimbabwe's complex emergency seeking to move beyond short term reliance on food aid but also willing and able to respond to crises with additional support.

COI ref 162976P

ENDS

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