Americans kick in extra drought aid to feed 450 000 starving Zimbabweans

HARARE, April 20 (Reuters) – Nearly half a million Zimbabweans will continue to receive food aid for another six months after the United States provided an extra $20 million to help ease hunger in twelve of the country’s districts hit by the worst drought in a generation.

Zimbabwean men attempt to get a malnourished cow on its feet in rural Masvingo, in this file picture taken January 21, 2016. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has declared a state of disaster in most rural parts of the country severely hit by a drought, with 26 percent of the population said to be in need of food aid, the government said in a statement late February 4, 2016. Picture taken January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/Files
Zimbabwean men attempt to get a malnourished cow on its feet in rural Masvingo, in this file picture taken January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/Files

An El Nino-induced drought, that has hit Southern Africa and cut the output of the staple maize crop, has left close to 4 million Zimbabweans needing food aid.

More than 450,000 people, who faced a grim future after a food aid programme ended in March, will now continue to receive food or cash until October, when the next rainy season starts, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said.

The additional $20 million will bring to $55 million the amount provided by the U.S. to feed hungry Zimbabweans since last year in June.

The U.S. is a major humanitarian donor in Zimbabwe but has since 2002 provided aid through agencies like the United Nations World Food Programmes after accusing President Robert Mugabe of vote fraud and human rights abuses. Mugabe rejects the charges.

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