A spokesman for the United Nations World Food Program said Friday that although the agency must raise $140 million to ensure sufficient food aid flows into Zimbabwe through early 2009, the WFP "pipeline" into the country can serve designated target groups through December.
The WFP issued an appeal for the additional donor funds this week, following a warning late last month from the Famine Early Warning Networks System or FEWSNET that Zimbabwe "could run out of cereals" by early November if the pace of imports into the country by commercial and humanitarian players did not increase threefold.
WFP Southern African spokesman Richard Lee acknowledged the agency faces a challenge as food supplies tighten and the number of people requiring assistance surges.
But he told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the agency will be able to serve the groups it is targeting through the end of this year.
"What the problem is at the moment is that we do not have any stock for January or February, which is when we really hit the peak of the crisis in Zimbabwe." He said the WFP aims to reach 2.5 million people in October, rising to 4 million in January-February.
"The real concern is when we hit the peak of the crisis in the first three months of 2009. At the moment we do not have sufficient (financial) resources for those three key months," he said. "That's why we really do need donors to come forward.
Many inside the country see a disaster in the making, particularly as the unity government that was supposed to be established following the Sept. 15 signature of an agreement for power-sharing by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change founded by Morgan Tsvangirai has yet to take shape so it can take action.
Policy Coordinator Eddie Cross of the Tsvangirai MDC formation circulated comments late this week under the heading, "Sliding into the Abyss." He stated that even if donors respond to the WFP appeal, "this still leaves a shortfall in overall cereal and oilseed supplies of 800,000 tonnes for the next six months," while with planting time here and the rainy season weeks away, "there is very little land preparation, virtually no seed and fertilizer."
More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...