I am honored to represent the United States Government here today as we announce our additional contribution of $41.9 million in response to the United Nations’ appeal for humanitarian assistance to respond to increased emergency food needs.
This brings the total U.S. Government contribution for the 2019-2020 lean season to $86.9 million dollars.
With these resources, the United States Government, through USAID, will provide life-saving food assistance to over one million vulnerable Zimbabweans in 16 districts across the country. We are proud to work with our longstanding and trusted partner, the World Food Program, and its many implementing partners, to deliver this assistance quickly and efficiently to the communities and people who need it most.
The $45 million contribution we announced in August, combined with this additional $41.9 million contribution, will provide food rations and a limited number of cash transfers for the purchase of food between October 2019 and April 2020. This assistance will maintain the nutritional status of vulnerable Zimbabweans and alleviate suffering.
These resources are in addition to $15 million U.S. dollars in emergency food security funding from the United States provided earlier this year in support of 2018/19 lean season needs under the UN Flash appeal and $7.9 million U.S. dollars in Cyclone Idai response funding. These contributions bring the total U.S. contribution to emergency needs in Zimbabwe to $109.8 million U.S. dollars in 2019 and make the United States the largest bilateral donor to emergency humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe.
The United States is proud to be part of a coordinated response to the humanitarian situation. We work closely with WFP and other donors to ensure that as many communities as possible are covered during this challenging time.
While we recognize that there is currently a need for this type of assistance, humanitarian assistance alone is not enough. The root causes of food insecurity and poverty must be tackled for Zimbabweans to end chronic food insecurity for good.
The United States urges the Government of Zimbabwe to implement a market-based agriculture policy and eradicate corruption in its subsidy programs, which severely exacerbate the very problems of food insecurity they are purportedly intended to solve.
The agricultural sector in Zimbabwe has the potential to revive this economy. However, it has been jeopardized by years of mismanagement of resources.
We support Zimbabwe’s renewed efforts to tackle corruption, which along with political reforms, can increase growth and investment confidence.
To end the cycle of privation in a country that was once the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe needs to accelerate market based-policies that make land bankable, fully liberalize the trade of grains and pulses, pay local farmers on par with imported grain costs, put idle farmland on the market, speed resolution of claims owed to commercial farmers, and end the Vulnerable Inputs Support Scheme in favor of more transparent support to small holder farmers.
On my travels throughout the country, I have been impressed by the resilient and entrepreneurial spirit of Zimbabweans. My hope is that with these reforms, the country and its people will one day no longer require this humanitarian assistance.
The American people also support programs that educate Zimbabwean smallholder farmers on how to increase productivity, use less water, and deploy fewer inputs. This assistance seeks to improve long-term food security by addressing the underlying causes of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition in rural areas and by working with small-scale farmers to increase agricultural production, productivity, and market linkages.
USAID’s two Food for Peace-funded development food security activities have a combined value of $144 million over seven years, and the two Feed the Future activities are valued at $20 million over five years. These activities provide assistance to rural farmers to help them improve their management practices, gain access to finance and agricultural inputs, and diversify their diets.
In addition, eighty-four American farmers are in the field shoulder to shoulder with Zimbabweans to share best practices in agriculture through our Farmer to Farmer program. We are partnering with over 350,000 Zimbabwean farmers to increase yields and incomes.
The United States remains the largest bilateral donor to emergency humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe. Today’s additional 41.9 million U.S. dollars underscores our continued commitment to assisting the people of Zimbabwe during difficult times.