The US-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network has estimated that about 10 percent of the Zimbabwean population will need food aid for the rest of this year, rising to 11.5 percent when the so-called hunger season peaks in early 2012.
The agency said planned food assistance programs for the 2012 maize season are likely to fill the food entitlement gaps in some rural areas, if they are adequately supplied. But aid workers say very hot summer weather is already affecting the outlook for crops.
Humanitarian agencies are now conducting assessments to estimate the food shortfall in the most vulnerable areas of the country.
Fernando Arroyo, local head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid, said the World Food Program and other agencies will source and roll out seasonal targeted assistance. He said weather among other factors will be key.
Forbes Matonga, director of Christian Care, a leading Zimbabwean partner for the WFP and other humanitarian agencies, said the need could be greater than projected.