Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hunger calling

....Meteorologists forecast that the wet season would start at the beginning of October, but three weeks into November only intermittent drizzle has fallen in drought-prone Masvingo, rather than the downpours the farmers need."We would not be walking empty-handed if things were normal," one of the women in the single file commented. "Surely the gods have cursed us."....

Government promises of providing subsidised food to rural areas through the state-run Grain Marketing Board have been largely unmet. Most villagers who expected assistance were still waiting to be fed, and deliveries were few and far between. When food assistance was delivered, villagers were unsure when they would get the next consignment.

"It is erratic - the last time we received grain from the government was five months ago," said Maketo. "We used to receive food from donor agencies but I am not sure what happened. The villagers cannot sacrifice the little they have for mourners.

"Rural communities were also bearing the extra burden of hosting the funerals of relatives who died in urban areas but could afford to be buried there because costs of burial plots has soared astronomically.Next year is likely to be even worse, aid workers warn. A lack of fuel and spare parts has reduced the number of tractors available for land preparation, while the cost of fertiliser is well beyond the reach of many in the rural areas.

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