Thursday, August 26, 2010

Zimbabwe in top 10 list of food-insecure states


Zimbabwe has been ranked as one of the top 10 countries at “extreme risk” of facing food shortages as a result of extreme weather patterns, high rates of poverty and failing infrastructure, a survey has shown.

According to the Food Security Risk Index 2010, released by international risk analysis and rating firm, Maplecroft, countries in sub-Saharan Africa were found to be particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.

The survey uses 12 criteria developed in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) to calculate the ranking.

The criteria used include: the nutritional and health status of populations, cereal production and imports, GDP per capita, natural disasters, conflict, and the effectiveness of government.

Afghanistan is rated as least secure in food supplies, while among African nations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (2), Burundi (3), Eritrea (4), Sudan (5), Ethiopia (6), Angola (7), Liberia (8), Chad (9) and Zimbabwe (10) are also considered as “extreme risk” cases.

A total of 163 countries were surveyed.

In all, African nations make up 36 of the 50 nations most at risk in the index.

“Russian brakes on exports, plus a reduction in Canada’s harvest by almost a quarter due to flooding in June, are provoking fluctuations in the commodity markets. This will further affect the food security of the most vulnerable countries,” said Fiona Place, environmental analyst at Maplecroft.

Recent figures by the Food and Agriculture Organisation indicate that nearly 1,7 million Zimbabweans would require food assistance in the 2010/11 season despite the recent recovery of the country’s troubled agriculture sector.

Professor Alyson Warhurst, CEO of Maplecroft, said:
“Food security is a critical geopolitical issue and an important factor for investors concerned with sovereign risk, food and agricultural business with respect to supply chain integrity and foreign direct investments.”

Warhurst said climate change was having a profound effect on global food security.

Zimbabwe, once the region’s breadbasket, is now a net importer of food from countries that it used to export to as a result of the chaotic land reform masterminded by President Robert Mugabe’s government.

The Food Security Risk Index is one component of Maplecroft’s resource security series of indices, which also encompass water security, energy security and a combined index for overall resource security.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

UN: 1,7-million Zimbabweans need food aid

HARARE, ZIMBABWE Aug 10 2010 13:35

Nearly 1,7-million Zimbabweans will require food assistance in the 2010/11 season despite the recent recovery of the country's troubled agriculture sector, United Nations agencies said in a report on Tuesday.

Agriculture plumbed new depths in 2008 when farmers produced 500 000 tonnes of the staple maize against national requirements of two million tonnes, but production has since picked up in the past two years to 1,35-million tonnes.

International aid targeting provisions of free seed and fertilisers for farmers in the once famine-threatened country, better use of land, and the end of hyperinflation have led to the improvement in harvests.

"Despite the improved availability of food, up to 1,68-million people will need food assistance because prices remain comparatively high for families with low incomes and little or no access to US dollars or South African rand," co-author Jan Delbaere of the UN World Food Programme said in the report.

Zimbabwe discarded the use of its worthless dollar last year after inflation reached 500-billion percent, but few US dollars or rands circulate in rural areas.

The UN report said general poverty and food insecurity had contributed to increased prevalence of chronic malnutrition in young children.

Once a regional bread basket, Zimbabwe has failed to feed itself since 2000 following President Robert Mugabe's seizure of white-owned commercial farms for black resettlement, leading to sharp falls in production. -- Reuters

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Civil society demands action from SADC leaders

By Alex Bell
06 August 2010

Civil society on Friday demanded that leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) take action to prevent state-sponsored violence during the next elections in Zimbabwe.
The call by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition comes ahead of the SADC Summit in Namibia from August 15 – 17, where Zimbabwe’s current political stalemate is set to be debated. The situation fell off the agenda at last month’s African Union (AU) summit in Uganda, despite the stalemate that has blocked any real change in the country.

All the signs are in place for a presidential election to be called next year and ZANU PF has already started electioneering, amid efforts to gather public opinion on a new constitution. But concern is already being expressed that there are no systems in place to prevent a repeat of the 2008 election violence that left hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced.

The Crisis Coalition is now calling upon SADC and AU leaders, as guarantors of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement (GPA), to put concrete plans in place to prevent such violence. This includes ensuring that Zimbabwe fully complies with SADC Principles and Guidelines regarding elections, as well as recognising the right of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to vote. The Coalition also wants SADC and AU leaders to “facilitate technical support to the newly appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission by more experienced regional electoral bodies, such as the South African Electoral Commission.”
Additionally the Coalition wants Zimbabwe barred from taking up a position in the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security for the duration of the on-going mediation process in Zimbabwe “to preserve the independence of the Organ.”
“Even in Zimbabwe, a player for one side cannot pull on a referee jersey,” the Crisis Coalition said in a statement.

A team from SADC is expected in Zimbabwe in the next two weeks, to review the progress of the unity government. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said over the weekend that the SADC team was expected to consider the ongoing violations of the Global Political Agreement by ZANU PF. It’s also believed he will raise the issue of ZANU PF’s propaganda jingles being played by the state broadcaster, as another critical outstanding issue.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who is the regional bloc’s official mediator in the Zimbabwe political crisis, is expected to brief the summit on the problems bedeviling the unity government. Zuma’s envoy, Mac Maharaj, returned to Zimbabwe this week, reportedly with the aim of “resolving some longstanding and new contentious issues,” in the fragile coalition.

Maharaj was set to meet with negotiators from ZANU PF and both formations of the MDC, although once again no details of these meetings have been made available to the media. The envoy is likely to produce a report that will indicate the next course of action. One of the likely scenarios is that President Zuma will visit Zimbabwe before the SADC summit, to try and encourage more progress.

Meanwhile the SADC Lawyers Association has urged regional heads of state to condemn Zimbabwe's snubbing of a ruling, ordering it to compensate farmers who had their land taken from them during Robert Mugabe’s violent land invasion programme.

"Continued silence on the actions of the Zimbabwean authorities will only help to play in the hands of sceptics who doubt the ability of the regional leaders to deal effectively with the government of Zimbabwe and its leaders," a statement read on Friday.

The group said that when the leaders gather at the forthcoming SADC summit they should take a principled stand on the matter, by condemning the Zimbabwe government. The SADC Tribunal in 2008 ruled that the land grab exercise was unlawful and ordered that the government to protect farmers and their rights to their land. But the government has ignored the order, as well as warnings that it is in contempt of court by doing so.

The association said that a warning to Zimbabwe would be in the interest of regional cohesion and integrity.

SW Radio Africa news - The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Call For More Donor Funds For Zimbabwe

Harare, August 02, 2010 - The United Nations through its Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) will this week ask donors to increase their support to Zimbabwe from the projected US 478 million dollars to half a billion dollars this year, Radio VOP can reveal.
The initial UN Consolidated appeal for Zimbabwe was pegged at US 100 million dollars in November last year. However, the appeal was further increased to US 478 million dollars in July after the UN said the humanitarian situation was fragile.

"Revised requirements thus amount to US$1 478,399,290. This is an increase of some $100 million (or 20%) over the original requirements," the UN said in July.

"The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is still fragile due to the prevailing degradation of infrastructure in the basic sectors of health, water and sanitation, and food security. The country also faces continuing underlying economic and political challenges. As a result, Zimbabwe remains at a crossroads."

Zimbabwe, which has been facing a myriad of problems, which include hyper-inflation, massive food shortages over the years has stabilised after the formation of the unity government by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe has experienced improvements in the health sector, with hospitals and clinics re-opening last year while the use of multiple currencies stabilised the economy and stemmed inflation.

The CAP was launched by the UN in 1992 in an effort to provide a co-ordinated approach by aid organisations to monitor their activities together.

"It is a tool used by aid organisations to plan, implement and monitor their activities together. Working together in the world's crisis regions, they produce appeals, which they present to the international community and donors," the UN said at the formation of the CAP.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Zim: A second liberation?

If you are in the 30-plus age bracket, chances are, you will not see Zimbabwe rise again in your lifetime.

Now before you accuse me of being an unfeeling pessimist, I am not by any means suggesting that Zimbabwe will never recover. I am merely asserting that a return to the former glory days is unlikely to be breathtakingly swift.

All indications are the journey to recovery will be painstakingly slow.