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World Food Program to Reduce Food Rations for Zimbabweans - 2003-12-22

The World Food Program announced Monday that food rations for more than 2.5 million Zimbabweans fed by the organization will be halved due to lack of funds.

The World Food Program is calling for urgent, cash donations to fund its southern African food programs. A $161.3 million funding shortfall is forcing the organization to cut by half the amount of food given to the 2.6 million Zimbabweans receiving aid from the organization.

Donor countries have pledged less than half the total amount the organization says its needs to feed hungry people in southern Africa. Two-thirds of the region's needy are in Zimbabwe, which has been hit by drought and political turmoil.

WFP officials say the situation will only deteriorate if more funding does not arrive soon, since need is generally highest during the first few months of the year before the annual harvest. As many as four million Zimbabweans will need food aid early next year.

If more donations fail to arrive, the organization says people will not have the strength to plant for next year and the international community may have to feed Zimbabweans for another year.