The World Food Program says it is stepping up its efforts to provide food assistance to Zimbabwe given deteriorating conditions in the country, while the U.S.-based Famine Early Warning System urged international donors to mobilize for relief.
WFP Southern African spokesman Richard Lee said the agency had increased its estimate of the number of Zimbabweans who would need food aid to 1 million from a "vulnerable group" of 300,000 previously - and expected to raise the figure again.
He said the donor community is “alarmed” at the deterioration in food availability.
The Famine Early Warning System or FEWSNET said the Harare government and the donor community "need to mobilize for an immediate and coordinated response to address the growing levels of food insecurity in the country."
FEWSNET said stocks of maize and wheat have dwindled while prices have soared.
World Food Program spokesman Lee told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the crisis will intensify late this year and in early 2008.
Reflecting the scarcity of basic foodstuffs and public agitation over shortages, two people were injured today in Bulawayo in a disturbance at a supermarket when a crowd pursued a truck carrying maize meal, bringing police to the scene.
Hundreds of customers had been standing in line for hours in hopes the supermarket might receive a shipment of sugar when a truck loaded with maize meal passed. Some in the crowd gave chase and jumped onto the truck when it stopped at a light. Two fell off the truck when it pulled away from the light, sustaining minor injuries.
Correspondent Babongile Dhlamini witnessed the incident and filed a report.
Elsewhere, residents of Masvingo rural districts complained that they must travel long distances to purchase basic commodities due to the state’s blitz on prices. Shops in Bikita and Gutu districts have either closed or have nothing to sell, residents said.
From rural Masvingo, correspondent Taurai Shava reported.