World Food Programme (WFP) has received three million euros from the European Union (EU) to support people in Zimbabwe struggling to meet basic food needs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The funding, made through the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Department (ECHO), is for WFP’s Urban Social Assistance and Resilience Building Programme.

Each recipient will receive $12 per month via either e-voucher or Western Union cash transfer to help cover basic food needs such as maize meal, cooking oil and salt, according to a WFP statement.

WFP Zimbabwe Country Director, Francesca Erdelmann, said Covid-19 measures exacerbated the already dire food insecurity situation in urban and peri-urban areas.

‘Urban populations face high living costs to obtain basic food needs, along with other critical items such as rent, water and electricity’, Erdelmann said.

‘We are seeing a 30 percent increase in the average price of basic food items (maize meal, maize grain and sugar beans) in the first half of 2021 when compared with the second half of 2020.

‘Cash assistance can help to ease the burden for households, providing people with greater autonomy when planning monthly expenses’.

According to the 2020 Urban Livelihoods Assessment report by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC), 2.4 million urban dwellers are estimated to be cereal insecure.

The findings showed increasing food insecurity of vulnerable households by 12 percent since 2019. This was due in part to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures that resulted in the widespread loss of urban livelihoods.

A total of $88 million is needed to support growing humanitarian needs in urban locations.

For his part, the EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen, reiterated the EU’s commitment ‘to working with partners like WFP to bring life-saving assistance to vulnerable populations, most of whom are struggling to make ends meet in these challenging times.

‘But our assistance can never cover all those in need, only sound public social policies and sustainable economic growth based on political and economic reforms can’.

WFP is assisting 326,000 people and aims to reach up to half a million people in urban areas by end of the year.

Photo source: WFP

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