A spokesman for the United Nations World Food Program said Wednesday that the agency has scaled up the distribution of food in Zimbabwe to reach some 3 million of the most vulnerable population segments in the first quarter of 2008.
Following a difficult 2007 when millions grappled with food shortages resulting from a failed harvest caused in part by drought, aggravated by state-ordered price cuts which emptied store shelves, the agency faces the heart of the traditional "hunger season" before the maize harvest - already looking uncertain - comes in as of April or so.
The WFP says it ramped up food aid to around 3 million Zimbabweans in December from 2.5 million in November. The Famine Early Warning System reported recently that food security in Zimbabwe deteriorated drastically towards the end of 2007.
WFP Southern African spokesman Richard Lee told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the agency will step up aid to all areas in need including the drought-prone south, and also urban areas focusing on orphans, people living with HIV/Aids and the elderly.
Elsewhere, Bulawayo clerics grappled with hunger, poverty and thirst in 2007 besides ministering to their congregations, working around the clock to help orphans, the internally displaced and city residents struggling with food and water shortages.
The church leaders are now bracing for 2008, as correspondent Netsai Mlilo reports.