HC Deb 25 March 2003 vol 402 cc136-7W
Mr Liddell-Grainger

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on humanitarian help for Zimbabwe. [104479]

Clare Short

My Department has provided over£51 million in humanitarian assistance for Zimbabwe since the crisis began in September 2001. We are helping the World Food Programme to feed 5 million people, and our direct NGO programmes are providing supplementary food to 1.5 million more—largely children, ex-farm workers, pregnant and nursing women, people living with AIDS, and the elderly.

DFID has built technical capacity in local NGOs and the UN agencies and has funded vulnerability assessments. We have helped prevent avoidable disease through essential drug supply, and have distributed seed and fertilizers to 188,000 households in communal areas, affecting the, food prospects of 1 million people.

Monitoring suggests that feeding interventions have been effective and have reached target populations. Malnutrition rates have been kept down, and mortality has not increased significantly despite the complete absence of food, other than food aid, in many districts. Despite high profile incidents at Insiza and Binga, there has been relatively little obstruction of food distribution. Politicisation remains a matter of concern in the Zimbabwe Government humanitarian programmes, but has not been a significant problem for donor-funded programmes.

Sadly, it has been evident for some months that food production in Zimbabwe will be affected for a third year in succession. This is due to mismanaged land reform that has disrupted farming; economic policies and controls that are disincentive to production; the lack of agricultural inputs and credit; and erratic rains. We anticipate that continued international humanitarian assistance will be needed until 2004, and expect to maintain a significant role in protecting the vulnerable in Zimbabwe in the coming year.

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