- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2003

JOHANNESBURG (Agence France-Presse) — The World Food Program (WFP) has been forced to cut food aid to about 2.6 million Zimbabweans after donors came up with less than half the funds requested by the U.N. agency, officials said yesterday.

The WFP said that in July it had appealed for $311 million to feed 6.5 million people in southern Africa through June 2004.

“However, to date donors have only come forward with less than half of what’s needed, leaving a $161.3 million shortfall. Two-thirds of the overall amount is needed for Zimbabwe, where more than four million people will need WFP assistance by January,” the agency said.

It also warned that the outlook for the first quarter next year is “even worse,” a further blow for the impoverished country where hyperinflation is rampant and one in three adults is HIV-positive.

“Zimbabwe’s lean season starts in January, a period when granaries tend to be empty and people enduring food shortages are most reliant on food aid,” the WFP said.

“Without sufficient food, people won’t have enough energy to cultivate crops for the year’s first harvest.

“Few people still have income or savings to buy staple foods, which have jumped in price by nearly 50 percent in the last few weeks, putting them out of reach of the average family,” it said.

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