, HARARE, Mar 11 – The Red Cross on Thursday said at least 2.17 million Zimbabweans need food aid and the figures are set to rise because of an expected poor harvest this year.
"In some parts of the country, the food situation is as bad as many of our volunteers and staff have ever seen it," said Emma Kundishora, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society.
"In Masvingo, for example, the rains didn\’t come in time and the crops have already died."
A report by aid agencies last month said at least 11 percent of the staple maize crop planted in the 2009/2010 season had been declared "a complete write-off" because of poor rains.
The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said people living with or affected by HIV were the worst affected by the food crisis.
"Hunger is an especially brutal experience for these people. In recent years, for example, we have seen many people default on their anti-retroviral treatment because the drugs are too toxic without food," Kundishora said.
Both organisations extended their emergency food operation from December 2009 until October this year appealing to donors for $33.2 million.
The Red Cross operation aims to feed 222,000 people and provide volunteers to work with communities to re-establish water points, and to help them better prepare for future planting seasons through training and the distribution of farming inputs.