CHIEF Mbiko Masuku of Matshetsheni in Gwanda has urged the government to quickly provide maize to rural communities as most people are now facing starvation due to incessant droughts in Matabeleland South.
Masuku said this year’s drought situation was worse compared to previous years as there had been no harvests.
“The situation is very bad this time around and people need food assistance urgently,” Masuku said.
“Unfortunately at the moment the Grain Marketing Board is dry and people cannot access any maize.”
He said there was need to decentralise the distribution of maize once it is made available as most villagers could not foot the expenses of having it delivered to them.
“We have to avoid a situation where maize is being distributed from Gwanda only. There is need to have the maize delivered closer to the people so that they could easily access it,” he said.
Matabeleland South is among the worst affected regions in the country due to poor harvests over the past five years and estimates indicate that the province would need over 630 metric tonnes of maize to avoid starvation.
A 2012 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee Survey estimated 1,7 million people in Zimbabwe would require food handouts.
Masuku said there was also need for the government to provide farmers with stockfeed to sustain their livestock in the prevailing environment.
He said most farmers were now relying on selling cattle to sustain their families.
He said water points were also drying up in some areas and villagers were being forced to walk long distances in search of water.