Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Zimbabwe food security crisis

While Mugabe enjoys his escapade to Rome, ranting against Blair and Bush instead of governing (that would be a first!), Zimbabwe is starving. This is the technical assessment of the current famine situation by the Famine Early Warning System Network:

In Zimbabwe, general economic collapse, severe food and fuel shortages, hyperinflation, destruction of illegal settlements, and the effects of HIV/AIDS make the situation unlike any other food insecure country in Africa, with the highest potential to deteriorate into famine conditions.

Soaring prices, near macro-economic collapse, the return of hyperinflation and the effects of “Operation Restore Order” are expected to increase the number of people requiring food assistance in urban and rural areas to at least 4.9 million. The WFP PPRO program estimates that 258,801 MT of food aid assistance is required, but only 96,981 MT have been pledged, and so far, very little has been delivered.

Unless commercial imports and relief efforts are accelerated in the two most affected countries (Zimbabwe and Malawi), the most at risk among the vulnerable, the aged, chronically ill, widows, orphans and children could face starvation before the new harvest in May 2006.

Maize seed, fertilizers, fuel and spare parts are all in serious short supply. No more than 26,000 MT of maize seed are available to meet a requirement of 56,000 MT. Even the existing limited supply of maize seed is not being released on the market, with only a month to go before the rains, as the government and seed companies have yet to agree on prices. With virtually no fertilizer available in a country that used to use 450,000 MT annually, and fuel in extremely short supply, Zimbabwe's preparedness for the 2005/06 cropping season is probably the worst ever.

What are we waiting for to refer Zimbabwe to the UN Security Council for starters? Mbeki’s permission? A few millions deaths? The UN to agree on the definition of genocide?

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