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More Food Available In Zimbabwe - But For Many, Ever Less Affordable

Food is in somewhat better supply these days in Zimbabwe, but the continually rising cost of living in a hyperinflationary economy means that staple foods such as maize and bread are out of the reach of many households, the U.S.-based Famine Early Warning Network said in its latest report on food security in the country.

The FEWSNET report says some areas have enjoyed better harvests following a long period of drought, and noted that the state has stepped up imports of grain, such that food supply conditions in some parts of Zimbabwe have improved. But the monitoring organization warned that shortages are looming in the period from September of this year through January 2007, especially in the more vulnerable southern regions.

Poor urban households as well as rural families in vulnerable provinces could find it harder to put food on the table as prices soar in synch with inflation near 1,000%.

Although the government has announced a freeze on prices, a 10-kilogram packet of maize meal now costs Z$460, nearly 40% dearer than one week ago.

The report also notes wide discrepancies in the projections offered by Zimbabwean officials and other domestic and international food-security organizations.

Reporter Blessing Zulu spoke with Christian Care Deputy Director Nyika Musiyazviriyo about what conditions his organization, one of the largest distributors of internationally provided food aid in Zimbabwe, is seeing on the ground across the country.

For another perspective on the county's longstanding and continuing food shortages, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Zimbabean human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga, based at Essex University in England.

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