Zim village 'starving'
12/03/2006 17:43 - (SA)
Nyanga - Chipo Mapako, a village head in the eastern Zimbabwean district of Nyanga does not remember when he last had a square meal.
The 56-year-old father of seven squints up at the sky then holds his chin and shakes his head when asked when he last had a proper repast.
"The daily struggle for us is to find enough food to stave off hunger," says Mapako, who heads a village of at least 300 people in the district renowned as much for its picturesque mountain ranges as for its dry, stony fields.
"Getting sufficient food is hard enough and who would think about nutrients?"
Thousands of villagers in the Nyanga district near Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique, are living on the verge of starvation and relying on monthly food rations from WFP.
42% is food insecure
Goodson Murinye, head of the WFP office in the eastern city of Mutare, says the district is in the red category - the most vulnerable - according to a study done late last year by a committee of state welfare officers and aid agencies.
"At least 42% of the population is food insecure with the highest malnutrition rate in the province," Murinye told AFP at a food distribution centre where villagers lined up to receive their monthly handouts of 10kg of corn meal.
The district also ranked third in the country in HIV/Aids prevalence, according to WFP.
Michael Huggins, WFP spokesperson for Southern Africa, told AFP the United Nations agency was feeding 4.3 million people in Zimbabwe and that the situation was so "critical" that thousands would continue to require food aid for the coming year.