UN Food Agency Wants US$308 Million for Southern African Food
July 3, 2003
The UN World Food Program appealed Wednesday for $308 million to feed 6.5 million people in southern Africa over the next year, saying that harvests have largely recovered from last year's drought but the hunger caused by the AIDS epidemic is worse than expected. The agency said two-thirds of the food was needed for Zimbabwe, which is in the grip of political and economic turmoil. Most of the rest is for Mozambique, which has been hit by a cycle of floods, cyclones and droughts over the past four years.Adapted from:
WFP chief James T. Morris said the crops in Zambia and Malawi - both at risk last year -- have recovered from the drought, and South Africa has a food surplus. But the sheer scale of the HIV/AIDS crisis is threatening harvest improvements. "HIV/AIDS is striking down farmers in southern Africa before they get a chance to plant their crops and regain the food security that was eroded over the last year," Morris said. The spread of the disease had hit agricultural productivity hard and will continue to do so, he said.
Morris said that crop production in Zimbabwe -- which used to be one of Africa's biggest agricultural producers -- is still 40 percent below its five-year average, with drought continuing to hit the south. In the coming year, Zimbabwe would likely need international aid for about half of its food imports, he said. Zimbabwe faces economic disruption, caused by hyperinflation and President Robert Mugabe's land redistribution program. "The folks we feed don't bear any responsibility for the political system," Morris said.
At the peak of the southern Africa drought last year, WFP was feeding 10.2 million people and managed to avert the much-feared starvation thanks to generous donations from the United States and other governments.
07.02.03; Clare Nullis