Humanitarian Aid Needed in Zimbabwe to Save Lives, Catholic Agency Appeals

Zimbabweans receive relief food from a food distribution point
Credit: VOA News

As the landlocked Southern Africa country of Zimbabwe struggles on the political front with a recent Reuter’s report indicating the curtailing of “the democratic space” manifested in “the arrests and abductions of several political activists,” the England and Wales’ Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD) operating in the country has painted a gloomy picture of the humanitarian situation of the country despite its own interventions to save lives.  

“Years of economic turmoil and climate change, as well as the recent Cyclone Idai, are pushing families to the brink of starvation,” CAFOD country representative in Zimbabwe, Verity Johnson, has been quoted as saying.

“Last year’s harvests failed, largely due to extreme weather, from droughts that lasted for months on end, to flooding which wiped out whole villages,” Johnson has added.

Making ends meet for an ordinary Zimbabwean is a challenge, Johnson has said and explained, “The cost of food has risen exponentially, and there are severe bread shortages across the country. Where it can be found, a loaf of bread in Zimbabwe now costs up to fifteen times more than it did a year ago.”

She has added, “In the struggle to feed their children, parents are going without themselves.”

According to the Harare-based representative, the prolonged drought caused by extreme climate changes “means dams have failed to fill, wells and rivers are drying up, leaving communities with no option but to walk tens of kilometres to reach water.”

In August, the UN launched a  £270m appeal for aid to help more than a third of the population who risked starving to death, a figure that CAFOD now warns has increased to more than half of the population.

To help alleviate the suffering of the Southern Africa nation’s people, CAFOD has given £50,000 as part of its emergency response, even as local aid experts carry out rapid assessment in the worst affected communities.

“Through our Church network, we have intensified our efforts over the last few weeks to provide families in need with emergency food and safe, clean water,” CAFOD states on their website.

On October 7, various Church leaders in the former British colony called for immediate efforts to alleviate the looming humanitarian crisis saying, “We as the Church commit ourselves to up scaling our efforts towards health, education, development and humanitarian assistance. In the same vein, we call on all political actors, state and non-state actors to respond to the immediate needs for humanitarian assistance and social services to alleviate the suffering of Zimbabweans.”

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]