A woman shows maize from her dry field in the Zaka Masvingo province. Severe lack of rain across Zimbabwe has hit the country hard, with government officials saying a quarter of the population faces starvation.
HARARE - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday that hundreds of thousands more people had slipped into the severely-hungry category in Zimbabwe, where over half of the population faces hunger.
It said a recent study revealed that the "number of acutely food insecure Zimbabweans had risen to 4.3 million, from 3.8 million at the end of last year".
In all 7.7 million people, more than half the population were food insecure and needed multi-sectoral humanitarian support according to the UN.
In previous hunger years, mainly the rural population would require food aid, but lately millions of urban dwellers are needing food aid.
"With most Zimbabweans already struggling to put food on the table, the COVID pandemic risks even wider and deeper desperation," said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s Zimbabwe country director.
"We must all do our utmost to prevent this tragedy turning into a catastrophe," he said in a statement.
The WFP on Wednesday launched an "urgent" appeal for US$130 million, to feed people, as part of its $472 million food aid that runs until December.
Hyperinflation which stood at more than 540 percent in February, has pushed the prices of staples beyond the means of most people.
The country's economy has been in a slump for more than a decade, experiencing multiple climate and economic related shocks including chronic shortages of cash, fuel, medicines and food.
WFP warned that coronavirus which has so far infected 11 and killed one of those "threatens to exacerbate Zimbabwe's dire economic and hunger crises, drastically affecting the lives of people in both urban and rural areas.