Oxfam to the rescue as drought bites

Livingstone Marufu
More than 200 000 food-insecure households in six districts are set to benefit from Oxfam’s food for vulnerable household as the international aid groups up their game to shield vulnerable communities from the El Nino-induced drought.
This comes after the international aid group has activated systems to secure over $17 584 million to feed the vulnerable for the next nine months.

Around four million Zimbabweans are food-insecure and require assistance.
President Mugabe has declared the drought a national disaster, resulting in Vice-President Emmerson Mnangwagwa launching an international relief appeal for $1 6 billion.

Government is seeking assistance in food importation, safe water supply, and micro-nutrient/under-five and school children feeding.

It is also focusing on irrigation infrastructure rehabilitation and production, livestock support and de-stocking, and wildlife relief.
The United Nations and its partners have so far mobilised $76 million in response to Government’s appeal.

Oxfam Zimbabwe humanitarian programmes co-ordinator, Mr Joel Musarurwa, said that humanitarian partners should partner Government to target vulnerable households whose agricultural efforts are handicapped by bad weather in drought-prone areas as food insecurity increases.

“Currently, we have planned a cumulative budget of $17 584 million as the impact of the drought and failed harvests in April are expected to rise. The response strategy has been structured in two phases, targeting six districts of Masvingo, Matabeleland South and Midlands Provinces.

“The first phase will target three districts and will require $6,6 million and the second phase will require $10,94 million targeting these districts.

“We need to link our response with development, risk analysis approaches, livelihood and market analysis and improved contingency planning,” said Mr Musarurwa.

Oxfam and its partners’ field efforts include the Limpopo Water Governance Programme which aims to find structural solutions to the water problems in the Limpopo River Catchment Area.

Oxfam is involved in a two tier programme which involves instant cash transfers of $30 per household and building resilience through sinking and rehabilitation of boreholes.

Oxfam has forecast that risk from disasters will increase in the country as more people are exposed to weather conditions, economic shocks on the poorest and new compound risks.

Community-based resilience is the ability of a group of people to anticipate, absorb and recover from shocks with little or no external help, despite changes that take place over a long period of time.

That is the reason World Food Programme, Oxfam and other humanitarian aid agencies are building and rehabilitating water sources as part of efforts to grow crops all year round and minimise the overreliance on rain-fed agriculture.

Oxfam is taking part in the ZIMVAC Rural Assessment members who include the various Government ministries, WFP, USAid, NGOs and FEWSNET, beginning from this month.

Matebeleland North districts, particularly Lupane and Nkayi, have been partnered by Government and its development partners to set up infrastructure which will help them commercialise livestock production, including feed lots, sale pens and dip tanks.

Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mrs Priscah Mupfumira, said: “Government is in the process of distributing 30 400,45 metric tonnes per month for 608 008 vulnerable and food insecure households, providing a 50kg bag per household.

“We, however, expect to receive more grain before the beginning of the harvest season. Before the 2017 harvest, the country needs 425 606mt for the vulnerable food assistance programme only excluding grain for private millers and direct private buyers from GMB.”

Minister Mupfumira said the Grain Importation Logistics and Distribution Task Force, set up after the declaration of the state of disaster, was responsible for importation of maize.

Zimbabwe, like many countries in Africa, is experiencing drought due to negative effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon.

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