El Niño-driven drought in Zimbabwe: WFP warns of funding shortfall threatening millions

Staff Writer

The World Food Programme (WFP) has issued a warning about the severe funding shortfalls threatening its ability to respond to the El Niño-induced drought gripping Zimbabwe.

The WFP’s country brief highlights a critical gap of US$81.9 million over the next six months. This shortfall, according to the WFP, jeopardizes both immediate humanitarian food assistance and vital long-term resilience-building programs.

El Niño, a cyclical climate phenomenon linked to rising Pacific Ocean temperatures, has brought erratic rainfall patterns to Zimbabwe, leading to widespread drought conditions. This has devastated agricultural production, leaving millions facing food insecurity.

The Food Security and Livelihoods cluster estimates that some six million people are likely to be food insecure across all El Niño-affected districts.

The 2024 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee’s Urban livelihoods assessment estimates that 35% of the urban population, or 1.7 million people, are currently food insecure.

The Rural Livelihoods assessment currently ongoing, will provide insights into the scale of food insecurity in rural areas from June 2024 through March 2025.

The WFP’s funding shortfall threatens to disrupt the distribution of critical food supplies, leaving these vulnerable communities at risk of hunger and malnutrition.

“In view of the need for an expanded food assistance response to address the El Niño-induced drought, the current funding shortfalls of US$81.9 million over the next six months are particularly concerning, both in terms of humanitarian assistance and resilience building,” the country brief stated.

The WFP highlighted that attention is drawn to the critical situation of the urban cash-based transfer programme in Mutare, Caledonia, Chinhoyi, and Mzilikazi, which serves approximately 52,000 people.

It said due to a lack of funds, the cash-based transfer programme will cease operations in July 2024.

Zimbabwe is currently facing the impact of an El Niño-induced drought, which has significantly impacted food and nutrition security outcomes, agriculture production, and livelihoods.

The Zimbabwe Drought Flash Appeal was launched in May 2024 and aims to mobilise humanitarian action between May 2025 and April 2025 in support of the government-led El Niño response, and it directly complements the government’s relief efforts.

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