Urgent action needed to help millions of Zimbabweans facing growing crisis

Emergencies, Media Releases article written on the 19 Dec 2008

Urgent action needed to help millions of Zimbabweans facing growing crisis
The joint effects of cholera and food shortages are dragging Zimbabwe deeper into crisis with more than 300,000 people in danger from the cholera outbreak, and more than five million people dependent on food aid, international aid agency Oxfam said today.

Oxfam Australia’s Zimbabwe Program Manager, Paul Davenport, said Oxfam was providing clean water, sanitation and food in Zimbabwe, including in regions hardest hit by the cholera outbreak.
“We’re also working to prevent the spread of the cholera to regions that have not yet been affected,” Mr Davenport said.
“This includes providing vitally important food aid. In some locations only 1 in 10 farmers have seeds to plant for the coming growing season, and many people are being forced to take increasingly desperate measures in order to survive,” he said.
“While the international community battles for a political solution in the country, millions of Zimbabweans are going hungry.

“We welcome the Australian government’s decision to provide an extra one million dollars for humanitarian aid, but the world needs to further step up its aid funding as well as help break the political impasse currently gripping the country. Otherwise, the cost of human lives and livelihoods could be overwhelming,” Mr Davenport said.

Oxfam’s cholera response is now expanding to help 615,000 people, focusing on the three worst hit areas: Beitbridge on the South African border, Budiriro, a suburb of Harare, and Mudzi an area bordering Mozambique

Our food response is aimed at helping 250,000 hungry people, and will provide drought resistant seed and fertilizer to 16,000 households.
One traditional leader at an Oxfam food distribution centre said, “I know of at least six people from three households around my area who have actually died because of hunger. A person cannot live on wild fruit alone. There are people who suffer from AIDS who are on medication. If that person takes medication and only had wild fruit to eat, there is no way they will survive. They will die. Those are the majority of cases who have died.”
“Zimbabweans are no strangers to food shortages but we’re being told by the people we work with that the situation has now reached desperate levels. Some children only eat a meagre portion of food once every three days and people scavenge in rubbish dumps for anything they can eat,.” Mr Davenport said.
Oxfam Australia is taking donations to assist its work around the food crisis in Zimbabwe.
For more information or to interview Paul Davenport, please call Kate Thwaites on 0407 515 559