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World Food Program, Citing Funding Woes, Cuts Back Zimbabwe Aid

The World Food Program said Wednesday that it is cutting food aid to Zimbabwe this month by two thirds because funding for assistance is running out. About 364,000 children and another 190,000 people in vulnerable groups are affected.

The United Nations agency said food aid rations in cities will be halved.

A WFP spokesman said the agency urgently needs $US61 million or 97,000 tonnes of grain to restore distributions to previous levels.

WFP monitoring reports say food security remains precarious for those in Zimbabwe fighting HIV-AIDS or other diseases, orphans and other vulnerable children for whom the main source of food is distributions originating with the U.N. organization.

And consumer inflation that ran over 1,200% in August has brought a 300% increase this year in the cost for Zimbabweans of obtaining a basic 2,100 calories daily.

The cutbacks come just as Agriculture minister Joseph Made has admitted for the first time ever that the country faces a food supply shortfall. Previous official statements said domestic resources were sufficient, describing WFP aid as supplementary.

For more on the aid cutback, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to WFP Southern African spokesman Mike Huggins.

Deputy Director Nyika Musiyazviriyo of Christian Care, one of WFP's main partners on the ground, said it would be hard to make up the cutbacks from other sources.

More reports from VOA Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...