Despite having a myriad of sectorial policies relevant to food security, Zimbabwe faced overwhelming odds in meeting the zero hunger by the 2030 target, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday.
Speaking during a debate on Achieving Zero Hunger in Zimbabwe, held in the capital Harare, WFP Country Director, Eddie Rowe, said Zimbabwe had a very conducive policy framework that promoted food and nutrition security, but that these had failed improve the country’s food security situation.
He said the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation and the food and nutrition policy were some of the plans and programmes with the potential to help improve the food situation.
“So what does hunger look like in Zimbabwe? Of course the statistics in front of you would suggest that Zimbabwe is stuck against odds in meeting this objective of a zero hunger nation by 2030. When you look at the stunting rate, the poverty levels, you look at the productivity yields, you look at some of the basic services, and indeed the odds are stuck against achieving this goal,” he said.
Rowe said although the country adopted the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, especially SDG Number 2, it continued to grapple with the challenges of rising poverty and associated hunger and malnutrition among the populace.
“The adverse weather conditions, lack of adequate financial and equipment resources and high poverty levels amongst others, have definitely contributed to the high food insecurity levels that we currently see. But the government has initiated key policies, not least including the ZIMASSET, despite these efforts, the goal to end hunger continues to be a challenge,” he said.
He said the country had, in the last 15 years, failed to meet the first Millennium Development Goal to halve extreme poverty and hunger owing to recurrent food insecurity and economic difficulties.
Rowe, however, noted that the government had since last year shown a deliberate effort to embrace the new global agenda, while ensuring it was localised and was top on its policy agenda.
He said the government of Zimbabwe had also committed to ensuring that it developed realistic programmes that would ensure progress towards achieving a zero hunger Zimbabwe.
On the issue of politicisation of food aid, Rowe said they were educating the beneficiaries and local authorities to ensure there was transparency.
“In almost all districts we now have government and our own registration list and every month we sit down to compare these lists and quite honestly you would find few inclusion errors. What that means is when government food assistance programme goes down to the districts, there is a registration list used and most of our partners are always on the ground to ensure that they verify,” he said.
He said they were now sharing statistics with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare on a monthly basis on food distribution and the different districts that would have benefited.
He, however, admitted that they sometimes clashed with local authorities on the distribution modalities as some had their suspicions regarding the motive of development partners who provided the food aid.
“I think where we have an issue is the extent to which local authorities work with districts, beneficiaries and the partners to ensure those in need are actually those who receive food. We have a major problem because we do not receive all the resources that we require to meet all the needs. That is where we have to prioritise and set up clear transparency targeting measures which local authorities and even the beneficiaries would see and understand.
“If you have 50 percent of resources, then how do you target those most in need, in most instances that is where we tend to disagree with local authorities and the partners because local authorities will say everybody needs food, but we don’t have the resources to cover everybody,” he said.