With the COVID -19 pandemic causing significant negative impacts in Zimbabwe, including and especially hunger in the impoverished country, this fall  Margaret  Makambira, founder and director of our longtime partner there, the Shinga Development Trust and its Lerato Children’s Village, turned to Bread and Water for Africa®  for emergency relief to feed children and families in the community Shinga serves.

Margaret cited a 2019 report the United States Agency for International Development report which indicated “Zimbabwe’s economy and food security situation remains fragile, this can be attributed to poor health conditions, erratic rainfall and long dry spells” – and this was before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

And according to recent data released by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC), 5.5 million people, which represents 38 percent of the country’s rural population, is currently facing severe food insecurity.

Among the worst places in the country facing food, insecurity is in Dora Ward 5 and 35 in the Mutare District served by Shinga where there is a high rate of unemployment leading to vulnerability for children and families, Margaret reported.

“Recently, there are high numbers of school dropouts since children are doing piece-work in order to support their families in acquiring food,” she told us this fall in her request for the emergency food assistance. “Hence, there is a need to assist these children and families with food hampers which will aid in their nutritional development and promote physical, social, emotional, and psychological growth.”

And since COVID-19, the pandemic “has played a major role in the downfall of the economy which was caused the movement restrictions placed on citizens which mainly affected those who are doing buying and selling,” she told us. “It also contributed greatly in the sense that gatherings were prohibited and members of the community were not receiving mutual help.”

Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, for several years we have been able to operate a school fee assistance program for children in the two districts.

In January, Margaret reported on the success of the program in which 100 students who had been benefiting through the school fee assistance program, were instead deemed eligible to receive what she terms as “food hampers,” after receiving authorization from government officials and agencies, and in compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

The hardest part for  Margaret was selecting which, 100 children, out of the 150 in the school fees assistance program, who needed help the most.

“We had to screen all 150 beneficiaries in order to come up with the 100 worst-affected children,” she told us. “This, however, was a very difficult exercise considering Dora is a ‘hunger-hit’ area, and all 150 beneficiaries were eligible.”

Once that was completed,  Margaret selected the 100 students who attended schools including Dora High, Mutukwa Primary, Kuhudzai Primary, Mhandimbirii Primary, Gwese Secondary, and others.

Included in each food hamper was 2 liters of cooking oil, 10 kilos (about 22 pounds) of “mealie meal” (cornmeal which is a basic food staple in the country), sugar, dried matemba (a small fish like sardines), beans, salt, soya chunks, and tea leaves.

The Center for Strategic & International Studies noted last summer that while the health impact, testing, containment, and trying to curb the pandemic has rightly been at the forefront in nearly every country in the developed world, “but low-income countries experience a different reality: in sub-Saharan Africa, over 70 percent of workers are self-employed, and a vast majority operate in the informal sector.

“Many bottom-of-the-pyramid Africans eat with the money they earn every day.”

But thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who made this emergency relief available for 100 hungry children and their families in this time of crisis,  Margaret says:

“We are very grateful on behalf of the feeding program beneficiaries for the food assistance program.”