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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 13:16 GMT
Zimbabwe food shortages in towns
Queue for food aid
Some seven million people in Zimbabwe need food aid
Food supplies in Zimbabwe are to be increased to help feed a growing number of people in urban areas, says the United Nations' World Food Programme.

An unpublished report by aid agencies says some 7.5 million people in Zimbabwe are now in need of food aid, a rise of two million in the past year.

Of these, some two million people in towns are short of food.

High unemployment and inflation of more than 600% are being blamed for eroding people's savings.

Zimbabwe's population is only 11.65 million.

The United States-based Famine Early Warning System says maize supplies have been "erratic and inadequate" and drought has become "almost a perennial problem" in many areas.

Staple food

World Food Programme spokesman Richard Lee says they are already feeding 75,000 children.

Last December, WFP warned that only a few people still have income or savings to buy staple foods, which have jumped in price by nearly 50%.

The WFP is urging the government to release more grain from its reserves to help bring down prices.

The UN food agency added that in most rural areas there was not enough food to go around.

The WFP has been carrying out emergency feeding across Southern Africa since 2001; but has been increasingly concentrating its efforts on Zimbabwe.

The crisis is complex with erratic rains, disastrous economic policies, the upheavals of the land invasions and the spread of HIV/Aids all playing their part.

In the space of just a few years Zimbabwe has been transformed from a major food exporter to one of the most aid-dependent countries in the world.


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