The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today commenced cash disbursements in the scale-up of the Urban Social Assistance programme thanks to funding from the United States through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID’s support will provide relief for vulnerable families in eight urban areas across Zimbabwe struggling to meet their daily food needs due to the effects of COVID-19. USAID and WFP are meeting the needs of people living in Gokwe, Redcliff, Kwekwe, Ruwa, Chinhoyi, Buhera, Chipinge, and Chegutu.

The financial assistance from USAID allows WFP to provide support to over 103,700 people with monthly cash-based assistance equivalent to US$12 each, enabling them to meet almost two-thirds of their daily food requirements for the next six months. USAID and WFP will reach the most vulnerable and food insecure families, particularly women, people who are unemployed, and people suffering from chronic illness or disability.

COVID-19 is aggravating Zimbabwe’s already severe climate- and recession-induced food security crisis, threatening to deepen and widen it. WFP projections indicate that by year’s end, the number of food insecure people will have surged by nearly 50 percent to 8.6 million – a staggering 60 percent of the population. In urban areas, where ongoing lockdown measures have triggered a massive loss of livelihoods, the number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 3.3 million, from 2.2 million, as the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic become more pronounced.