Staving Off Hunger in Zimbabwe

From early spring through mid-summer is a time of year commonly referred to as the "hungry season" in parts of Zimbabwe. This is a period when food from the previous season's crops is running dangerously low and new crops are not ready to yield their harvest.

During this critical hunger period, Planet Aid and DAPP Zimbabwe have been delivering high-protein meals to individuals who are participating in development programs that help them rise from poverty. The meals provide an important boost to these individuals, assisting them in continuing to grow during a vulnerable period.

Thanks to a recent $125,000 grant awarded to Planet Aid by USAID, meals will again reach impoverished households in Zimbabwe. A fortified soup mix will be delivered and distributed from February 2012 through July 2012. Approximately 10,000 individuals, including orphans and vulnerable children, people living with HIV/AIDS, and pregnant women in Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programs will receive three daily servings of Harvest Lentil Pro soup, containing lentils, rice, dehydrated vegetables, and texturized vegetable protein.

An estimated 35 percent of all children in Zimbabwe suffer from stunted growth, 2 percent are malnourished, and 16 percent are underweight. Zimbabwe ranks among the top ten highest HIV prevalence countries in the world. HIV has left nearly one million children orphaned, which represents 25 percent of all children in the country. The HIV/AIDS death toll is exacerbated when families cannot afford food, medicine, treatment or transport to medical facilities.

By providing the most vulnerable members of the population with a high-protein soup mix, Planet Aid seeks to improve their ability to cope with the effects of food insecurity. People living with AIDS will benefit from a nutritious, diversified diet, helping to boost their immune systems. Beneficiaries are expected to gain weight and children are expected to have improved cognitive abilities.