As hunger and HIV continue to threaten lives and livelihoods in Zimbabwe, the Red Cross is helping 9,000 families generate their own food and income with agricultural training.
In the past nine months drought, followed by rains, floods and an outbreak of crop-eating caterpillars have hit farming provinces in Zimbabwe hard.
Around 32 per cent of children are chronically malnourished (UNICEF September 2012) and around 1.6 million people are currently in need of help to get enough food to eat on a daily basis.
Agnes lives in the village of Matshuzula in Matabeleland North, a farming province badly affected by the crisis. With no food in the house and hungry children to feed, her husband has to go begging for maize.
Agnes said: “When we have food, we only have it for a day. We can never be sure about tomorrow. We live by the grace of God and mostly we go more than a day without eating. It isn’t easy to ask the neighbours for something. They have nothing to eat themselves.”
In February 2013, the British Red Cross gave more than £80,000 from its Disaster Fund to support the Zimbabwe Red Cross. The money will help improve and stabilise people’s access to food, clean water and sanitation.
The past decade has been tough for Zimbabweans with political and economic instability, natural disasters and the impact of HIV devastating the country’s food production.
Although food aid is important during the peak of a crisis, to break the cycle of hunger we need more investment in programmes that build people’s ability to cope with economic shocks and food crises.
The Zimbabwe Red Cross, with support from the British Red Cross, is boosting food production and combating hunger by training people in better agricultural practices and irrigation techniques. This five-year programme will help families continue to improve their lives and increase incomes even after the project finishes.
Hunger and HIV
Southern Africa remains the epicentre of the HIV pandemic worldwide; it is home to 31 per cent of all people living with the disease. This has had a devastating impact on fragile economies like Zimbabwe’s, as HIV can dramatically affect people’s ability to earn a living.
The Red Cross project focuses on farmers, female-headed households, the elderly, orphans, vulnerable children and people living with HIV.
Diane Moody, southern Africa programme support manager, said: “Eating enough nutritious food is particularly important for people living with HIV, without it their medication won’t work properly and it can make the difference between life and death.”
Watch a video and find out more about the challenges people in Zimbabwe face in getting enough food to eat each day:
Find out more about our programme in Zimbabwe