Zimbabwe the most aid dependent
Johannesburg – Zimbabwe is the most food aid dependent country in the world, aid agencies said on Tuesday.
Also, nearly 55% of children who died of cholera in the southern African country were malnourished.
This is according to a report released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, quoting numbers from the World Food Programme.
"Per capita, Zimbabwe is now the most food aid dependent country in the world. The World Food Programme believes that seven million people are in need of food assistance – somewhere between 65 and 80% of the population," the report states.
"The UN believes that 54% of all children who have died from cholera were malnourished, with 47% of the country’s population undernourished."
The food crisis was caused by several factors including hyperinflation which disenfranchised many agriculture farmers, the report states.
"Zimbabwe’s fields are sown with substandard seed, scavenged often from granaries or from the side of the road. It is extraordinarily unlikely that the 2009 harvest will significantly surpass 2008 – the worst in the country’s history," says the report.
The country’s woes started escalating in 2000 when President Robert Mugabe’s government lost a referendum to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and sanctioned an aggressive land reform programme in which the majority of white farmers lost their land to war veterans.
This resulted in a food crisis, exacerbated by drought and later by hyper-inflation.
The country was plunged into socio-economic turmoil, political violence and eventually a collapse of infrastructure, alongside a deadly cholera epidemic last year that killed more than 4 000 people.
Mugabe late last year finally agreed to form a government of national unity with opposition leaders.