Zimbabwe (MNN) — During last year's run-off election, Zimbabwe closed the door on humanitarian aid. This year, food aid is beginning to come in, but numbers are falling short of what is needed. At meetings in Nairobi this month, a well-respected evangelical leader called for the re-establishment of humanitarian aid to the country.
There are 12.5 Zimbabweans who need more than two million tons of cereal, for example. Thus far, only 1.4 million tons will be available domestically according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and Zimbabwe's government.
Though maize crops have done twice as well as the previous year — a 130 percent increase, only 12,000 tons will be harvested — the lowest amount ever. The problem lies in the high cost of fertilizers and seeds in combination with farmers' lack of funds and unreliable electricity supply for irrigation.
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee provided 10,000 tons of food aid to the country earlier this year. And they are planning to start a school feeding program once classes start up again in a few months.
The Christian Reformed (CRC) denomination's Board of Trustees adopted a Resolution on Zimbabwe in July 2008, expressing "solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe and in particular those Christian leaders who…live the gospel of love in the face of hatred and violence" during post-election unrest.
"Our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe are telling us that prices are smoothing out, and a new financial system is running parallel to the central bank," said Peter VanderMeulen, social justice director for the Christian Reformed Church. VanderMeulen welcomes positive input from faith leaders in Zimbabwe who have said that it is time for the country to selectively return to channels of aid.
Not only are food donations down, only 47 percent of the $718 million dollars of assistance Zimbabwe needs have been committed. The money is designated for clean water programs, children's educations, and further food assistance.
There are 22 million children age five and younger who are severely malnourished. Malnourishment is responsible for one-third of all deaths of children under five years of age.
CRWRC's aid always comes with the love of Christ. By helping meet the basic needs of
impoverished people, they can effectively demonstrate and eventually share the Gospel.