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Famine Early Warning System Declares 'Emergency' in Zimbabwe

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FEWSNET, has issued an upgraded warning on the food security situation in Zimbabwe, calling it an “emergency.”

FEWSNET cited the general economic crisis, poor harvests and the “dramatic” impact of the government’s recent price-control campaign on the availability of food in the country, as well as restrictions on imports of basic commodities.

The U.S.-based organization said cereal harvests this year would meet just 55 percent of national needs. It said the state monopoly Grain Marketing Board has received just 70,000 metric tonnes of maize from domestic sources since the recent harvest, plus 115,000 tonnes brought in from Malawi of 400,000 contracted for with Lilongwe.

The World Food Program and the C-SAFE consortium of bilateral aid providers project imports of an additional 352,000 tonnes, FEWSNET said. It added that unconfirmed reports said a further 200,000 metric tonnes have been lined up from Tanzania.

FEWSNET expressed “serious concern” about the Grain Marketing Board’s ability to distribute maize efficiently across the country. There have also been complaints that GMB distributions have been subject to political manipulation by the ruling party.

Christian Care National Director Reverend Forbes Matonga told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that country has been in need of food assistance for quite some time, but the government’s crackdown on prices since early July has added an entirely new dimension to the country's food crisis.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...