The Sunday Mail
THOUSANDS of families in Harare and Bulawayo have started receiving maize as Government extends its drought relief programme into urban areas to avert food insecurity under a scheme previously crafted for rural communities.
Households in the country’s two biggest cities are receiving monthly rations of free 50kg bags of grain through the programme co-ordinated by the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Ministry.
Only households captured under the Public Assistance and Harmonised Social Cash Transfer registers in Harare and Bulawayo are getting the grain at present, while an assessment is being undertaken to incorporate other vulnerable households.
The Food and Nutrition Council will undertake an Urban Vulnerability Assessment to ascertain food insecurity levels in all urban centres with a view to adding more households to the beneficiaries register.
Over three million individuals in 640 934 households are currently benefiting from the 32 047 tonnes of maize being distributed by Government monthly.
The latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report projects that 4,1 million people in 820 000 households will be food insecure in the last quarter of the 2016-17 consumption year.
Public Service Minister Mrs Prisca Mupfumira told The Sunday Mail, “Normally when we are talking about drought mitigation will be talking about the eight rural provinces but now because food insecurity has crept into the urban areas as well, we have made presentations in Cabinet seeking a go ahead to extend the programme into urban areas as well. We were given the go ahead.
“In order for us to select the beneficiaries we need to do a proper assessment and that is done by the Food and Nutrition Council through identifying the beneficiaries.
“The FNC will soon be undertaking an Urban Vulnerability Assessment in view of the urgent need for food assistance in urban areas. To implement the programme a total of US$352 000 is required and Treasury has been requested to provide the funds.
“What we are doing in the interim is to use our public assistance registers for social protection. Households which are currently on Social Welfare Public Assistance and the Harmonised Social Cash Transfer registers are receiving the grain while the other vulnerable households will receive after an Urban Livelihoods Assessment has been completed.
“We are now calling with the local leadership in the communities to work together and give us proper list of the vulnerable households.
“We have since informed the relevant provincial ministers. My ministry has started initially with Harare and Bulawayo provinces while modalities for other urban centres are being finalised.”