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Monitor Says Prompt Action Needed To Avert Wide Hunger In Zimbabwe

The food crisis in Zimbabwe is likely to get worse over the next six months, according to the latest report from the U.S.-based Famine Early Warning System, or FEWSNET. But widespread hunger can be averted by a combination of government food imports, stepped up international food aid and a normal agricultural season in 2008.

FEWSNET warned, however, that if the government cannot address the looming food deficit and if international food assistance is limited, a “worst-case scenario with more widespread and extreme food insecurity affecting a large proportion of rural and urban populations…will quickly emerge.” In other words, there is no time to lose.

Even if all of the key players respond properly and in time, the agency said, Zimbabwe will still face what it described as a "a persistent and serious food crisis.”

Though FEWSNET expressed concern about the ability of the Grain Marketing Board, a state cereals monopoly, to distribute food efficiently, it noted that with elections on the calendar early 2008, Harare is likely to step up efforts to feed the population.

Christian Care National Director Reverend Forbes Matonga told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he concurred with the assessment by FEWSNET, and noted that his own organization is getting ready to start distributing a new consignment of food assistance from the World Food Program.

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