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Thousands Still in Need of Food Aid in Zimbabwe

The World Food Program continues to feed hundreds of thousands of people in Zimbabwe despite government claims that there is enough food for everyone.

Earlier this year the World Food Program distributed food aid to close to half of the 130,000 people of Mudzi district in northeastern Zimbabwe.

Food distribution stopped for many after the government declared that Zimbabwe has enough food and will not need assistance. That claim is disputed by the donor agencies and even by a parliamentary committee made up of members of the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The WFP is still helping to feed those considered vulnerable despite government orders to stop food distribution.

Among those the WFP considers at risk are infants and school children and those infected by HIV and AIDS.

One of those who receives food aid is 19-year-old orphan Elizabeth Shoko who lives with her grandmother. She said stopping food aid would make life very difficult for them.

"f it stops it kills us, we do not have anybody to give us food again so if they stop we are going to suffer a lot," she said.

It is the rainy season in Zimbabwe and people in Mudzi are hoping for good rains so they can harvest enough to feed themselves and maybe even have crops to sell.

For most of the district's people agricultural production is the only source of income. Bad harvests over the last four years has plunged many of them into poverty.

Rudo Katsande says while the government has disbursed some free seed corn to some families, it is not enough. She says if the farmers do not get any fertilizer they won't harvest much.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic troubles since independence 24 years ago. Its agriculture, once the source of foreign income, has collapsed after several years of drought.

But donor agencies and analysts however also blame the drop in production on the country's chaotic land reform program. Under that program, white commercial farms have been expropriated and the land, which was to be distributed to landless blacks, ended up mostly in the hands of President Robert Mugabe's top officials.