The food security crisis on the continent is exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A Scottish aid worker tasked with saving 26,000 people from starvation in Zimbabwe has warned of the devastating impact of the conflict in Ukraine on food security around the world.
Peter McGeachie, from Prestwick in Ayrshire, is the Zimbabwe country director of Belfast-based overseas development agency Trόcaire, the Irish sister agency of Glasgow-based charity SCIAF.
The 62-year-old will help Trόcaire tackle crippling food poverty in Zimbabwe with up to £2million in additional funding from the UK government.
Peter, based in Harare, has over three decades of experience working in some of the world’s poorest countries including Mozambique, Nepal, Myanmar and Pakistan.
He said: “Communities here were already struggling to provide for their families due to the very severe effects of climate change and the challenges of Covid-19.
“But in recent weeks, the situation has worsened considerably. Most people in Zimbabwe depend on rain-fed agriculture to feed their families. It is the end of the rainy season and unfortunately the rains have failed in many places.
“The growing season was going to be pretty good, but there were light rains in January and February and that changed everything. Instead of fields full of corn and other crops ready to be harvested, there are vast expanses of stunted or dead plants.
“I spoke to farmers in rural areas of Zimbabwe. Life is a daily struggle for them and they told me they estimate they will lose a large part of their harvest this year, which means critical food shortages and a lack of income for their communities in the coming months. come.
“Coupled with this poor harvest is the effect of rising food prices. As in many countries around the world, including our home in Scotland, the war in Ukraine has seen the price of food and fuel soar in Zimbabwe in recent weeks. Inflation rates continue to soar.
All donations to Trόcaire before June 1 are matched through the UK Aid Match program of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
The United Nations agency, the World Food Program (WFP), estimates that some 5.3 million Zimbabweans – about a third of the population – are food insecure.
The food security crisis is exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine normally produces enough food to feed 400 million people, but the abrupt halt in its exports has helped push up the prices of staples such as flour, corn and cooking oil.
Africa Minister Vicky Ford said: “The UK Government is delighted that, thanks to UK Aid Match, we are once again matching generous donations from the public, to support the valuable work of Trocaire.
“With your support, Trocaire will provide vital aid to Zimbabwean families facing hunger due to drought, climate change and a food security crisis exacerbated by the barbaric invasion of Russia stealing food from the mouths of the poorest people in the world”.
However, Peter is keen to point out that the situation is not hopeless. Thanks to donations made in the UK, Trόcaire is working with communities in Zimbabwe to try to ensure that they are able to survive these latest shocks.
He said: “Covid-19 and the conflict in Ukraine have only compounded the problems already faced by seven million people in southern Zimbabwe, especially women, affected by drought caused by climate change.
“This year, the Trόcaire Lenten Appeal is putting the spotlight on Zimbabwe. We are delighted that the UK government has pledged to match, pound for pound, every public donation made before June 1 to the appeal in the UK.
“Things are bad in Zimbabwe and the coming months are going to be extremely difficult for people here. But donations to the Lenten Appeal will allow Trόcaire to continue to support people in times of need and bring hope where there was very little before.
“It has a profound impact on people who already had very little disposable income. Now everything costs more – the vegetable oil people cook with, salt, soap, sugar, batteries and candles.