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UN Humanitarian Office Asks Donors for $378M for Zimbabwe Aid in 2010

Though the UN consolidated appeal is significantly lower than the $718 million requested for 2009, the country still needs a substantial amount of aid to stave off hunger in rural areas and address other needs

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has issued a consolidated appeal to raise US$378 million to meet Zimbabwe's needs in 2010.

That represents a major reduction from the $718 million appeal for 2009, of which $457 million was raised.

UN sources said the country is in much better shape than one year ago, though assistance is still required to meet food needs and continue restoring health care and other systems.

Peter Muchengeti, a board member of the National Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that aid is particularly needed in the provinces of Midlands, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Masvingo.

Meanwhile shortages of safe drinking water are boosting fears of a new cholera epidemic amid heavy seasonal rains.

The World Health Organization has reported five deaths from cholera resulting from some 116 cases.

The rains are normally welcomed, but Zimbabweans who lived through a cholera epidemic that claimed more than 4,000 lives between late 2008 and mid-2009 know heavy rain increases the risk of cholera through the contamination of water supplies.

The restoration of infrastructure continues in many cities and many rural communities still need new boreholes drilled to ensure a safe supply of water.

Health Minister Henry Madzorera told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that his staff is working with other ministries to rehabilitate the nation’s water-supply infrastructure and remind Zimbabweans to make sure their water is safe. e said his ministry is doing better at containing the disease.