"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." --Bishop Desmond Tutu

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Zimbabwe on 600 calories per day

Compounding Zimbabwe's economic woes is the threat of mass starvation. This, in what was once the breadbasket of Africa. Why has the international community allowed Zimbabwe to get this bad?
The United Nations is to halve the food ration to millions of Zimbabweans, bringing it below what will keep an adult alive, as the numbers of people dependent on aid rises sharply and donations from foreign governments fall well short of demand.

The World Food Programme is to cut the core maize ration in February from 10kg to 5kg a month – or just 600 calories a day – for 7 million Zimbabweans, about 70% of the people left in the country. The recommended ration is 12kg a month.
This is nuts. 600 calories a day is below the limit to sustain a human adult. The famine is compounded by the near total collapse of the Zimbabwean farming system under the guise of brutal cronyism masking as "land reform."
As a result of the cuts, many Zimbabweans will be fortunate to eat once a day. Millions have been left dependent on food aid because of years of crop failures mostly caused by the knock-on effects of the government's seizure of white-owned farms and the collapse of the economy and infrastructure. Most shops sell food only for US dollars because hyperinflation has wiped out the value of the Zimbabwe currency, and what is available is relatively expensive imports beyond the reach of the mass of unemployed and desperate Zimbabweans.
The immediacy is driven by the faster-than-expected depletion of local grain reserves. Zimbabwe was committed to importing 800,000 tons of grain but only managed to purchase 200,000.
The April harvest is unlikely to bring relief. Agriculturalists say it will again fail; they estimate it will provide less than a quarter of the country's needs and that drastic food shortages will continue into next year once the results of the harvest have been consumed.
Zimbabwe does not deserve this.

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