Home » Health Services » Dr Health – Food Security a Challenge Due to Funding Shortfalls

The Government of Zimbabwe, the United Nations World Food Programme, and other partners have expressed concern that the continuation of food assistance without conditions will encourage a mindset of dependency and would not address the underlying causes of national food insecurity.

Food safety, availability and security remain complex development issues, linked to health and under-nutrition, but also to sustainable economic development, environment and trade.

These challenges are highlighted in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals that are nearing fruition in December 2015.

Food security means food availability, access to such food by the most vulnerable populations, as well as the consumption of the right foods.

Current initiatives and a meaningful post 2015 path require developing the economy, producing jobs and improving wages.

The WFP has been instrumental in forging a sustainable path by providing nutrition-enhancing interventions in agriculture, health, hygiene, water supply and education.

These interventions not only meet people’s immediate food needs, but also break the cycle of hunger by helping communities build or rehabilitate productive community assets.

“Sustainable food systems make use of available resources efficiently. We in Zimbabwe have to make sure we get the most food from every drop of water, plot of land, speck of fertiliser and minute of labour,” says Ringson Chitsiko, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.

Efforts to promote sustainable food production are already underway. In 2013, WFP’s Food for Assets programme created 300 productive assets, such as sustainable fishing ponds, irrigation schemes and deep wells in rural communities.

Once dependant on WFP’s other food assistance programmes, villagers in project areas have found these programmes essential to a self-sustained way of life for generations to come.

“The ground nuts and maize are ready for harvest as I speak. We go and sell these and make enough money to buy good quality food that we never ate before. We are also paying school fees for our children and want to send them to university so they can have a higher education,” says Gladys Mudhara, a recipient of WFP’s Food for Assets programme.

“Last year we received food hand-outs because we didn’t have enough water. Our life is much better because we now have water for our crops. We are watering our gardens and are looking forward to harvesting our crops,” said Tendai Ganhure, another recipient.

“When you’re providing emergency aid, you’re fighting hunger,” says WFP country director Sory Ouane.

“What we are hoping to achieve now as we move from food aid to food assistance, is that we are working to not only fill empty stomachs, but to build people’s resilience, particularly hungry people so that they can withstand shocks that might impact their ability to feed themselves.”

The transition to resilience building activities forms part of WFP’s new strategic direction, which has transitioned from free food distributions to supporting resilience building activities through the CashFood for Assets programme.

“The most important part of the CashFood for Assets programmes is not the food given for a few months but the asset created,” Ouane says.

“These communities own, manage and maintain the projects, and that is what will sustain them in the years to come.” However, these efforts are at risk if the resource situation does not improve.

WFP relies entirely on voluntary contributions to finance its humanitarian and development projects.

Since WFP has no independent source of funds, all donations either in cash or in-kind must be accompanied by the cash needed to move, manage and monitor the assistance programmes.

Through corporate-giving programmes, individual companies can make a vital contribution to fighting hunger, creating sustainable development and stabilising national food security.

Corporate donations of cash, product or services can help free up scarce resources to help WFP feed more hungry Zimbabweans.

Individuals can also make a difference in the lives of the hungry. A personal donation can provide food for emergency food rations during crisis situations and aid in rebuilding schools, roads and other infrastructures that are critical to overall national development.

The writer is a doctor and an international health columnist that works in collaboration with the World Health Organisation’s goals of disease prevention and control. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.

Source : The Herald