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Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to deal with the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. [111717]

DFID has contributed £51 million to help Zimbabwe since the humanitarian crisis began in mid 2001. We are currently supporting the World Food Programme, which is feeding nearly five million people, while government and non-governmental organisations are also supplying food. DFID is directly funding NGOs that are providing supplementary food to 1.5 million, mostly children, pregnant and nursing women and the elderly. We have supported home care programmes for families affected by HIV/AIDS and have provided seeds and fertilisers to 180,000 households to assist food production.The international response has helped avert a crisis and malnutrition rates have increased only marginally. Adequate supplies of food have been secured until June when the harvest will improve the situation. However, it is already evident that the crisis in food production will persist for a third year, as the structural causes of agricultural decline have not been addressed. The economic crisis also means that poverty is rising and many people will remain vulnerable. Detailed assessments and the plans of the Zimbabwe Government are awaited; from there we will develop specific programmes for 2003–04.