Zimbabwe Dollar

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received 7 million U.S. dollars in new funding from Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), to assist Zimbabwe’s urban poor strengthen their skills and ability to cope in the face of economic and climate shocks.

A statement from WFP said Wednesday that SDC’s support complemented the cash transfers that WFP was already delivering to the most vulnerable, food-insecure urban Zimbabweans with activities that build their resilience to cope with various shocks and stressors, which can devastate their food security.

“With the new funding, WFP together with other cooperating partners and the Government of Zimbabwe at both national and district levels will engage urban communities in Bulawayo, Mutare, and Gweru. These communities will work together to boost urban agriculture, build linkages between rural-urban food supply chains and learn climate-smart agricultural techniques among other key activities,” the statement said.

WFP already delivers monthly cash transfers to 326,000 Zimbabweans and plans to scale up its urban assistance program to reach at least 550,000 people living in the 28 worst affected and food insecure urban areas in the country.

Program recipients get 13 U.S. dollars each every month, enough to cover 62 percent of their food needs.

The government currently estimated that about half of all urban dwellers — or roughly 2.2 million people — go to bed hungry.

“The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated Zimbabwe’s economic instability — and has had a particularly devastating effect on urban residents, many of whom were already living hand to mouth, working multiple jobs in the informal sector.

“The loss in livelihoods, coupled with food price inflation and higher cost of living, has meant that food insecurity and vulnerability of the urban poor has worsened,” the statement added.

SDC Director of Cooperation in Zimbabwe Manuel Thurnhofer said the contribution to WFP would help alleviate the suffering of a large number of people in Zimbabwe’s urban areas who were struggling to cope with the twin shocks of COVID-19 and inflationary pressures that were causing a rise in prices of basic commodities.

“In most urban households, women and children are generally the first to suffer economic and social hardships and we are pleased that in the project areas they will directly benefit from this support,” he said.

WFP representative Francesca Erdelmann said Zimbabwe’s urban communities were thriving with potential to be food secure, only they were severely hampered by frequent weather and economic shocks and now the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“WFP is delighted to collaborate with SDC on this vital, resilience-building component of our work to support the most vulnerable urban dwellers in Zimbabwe to get back on their feet and become more self-sufficient in the long term,” Erdelmann said. Enditem

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