The Catholic aid agency has worked in Zimbabwe for almost three decades and is currently running an emergency food programme targeting 110,000 of the country’s most vulnerable people.
A ban on aid agencies working in Zimbabwe has only just been partially lifted with tight restrictions still remaining. CAFOD partners report that in many areas the ban effectively remains in place and they are still unable to reach people badly affected by the poor harvest and catastrophic economic crisis. The impact of the aid agency ban has put back development and emergency relief work considerably across the country.
Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai now together face the immediate task of keeping hundreds of thousands of people alive. This year’s harvest was only approximately 40% of the average yield meaning that an estimated 5.1 million people, from an official population figure of 12 million, will be in need of food aid by the start of next year, according to United Nations figures. The population is likely to be smaller than 12 million due to an estimated three million people leaving the country over the last few years.
"It is hard to imagine a greater challenge to a new government than that faced by the new power-sharing government" said CAFOD Head of Humanitarian Support Department, Matthew Carter. "If it is to turn Zimbabwe’s fortunes around then Mugabe and Tsvangarai need to listen to the people and fully reflect their needs, priorities and interests.
"The international community, in particular the community of African nations, has a crucial role to accompany the nation during this period and ensure that the new government stays responsive and accountable to the Zimbabwean people.
"Many aid agencies working in Zimbabwe are receiving significant financial support from DfID which is currently subject to temporary extension following the election turmoil. It is vital that this funding continues for at least the short to medium term to allow aid agencies to concentrate on helping to rebuild the country."
CAFOD’s long term development work in Zimbabwe includes HIV work, sustainable agricultural support projects, and providing clean water. Amongst the British aid agencies in the country, it has one of the biggest programmes and works closely with the Catholic Church across the country