The advent of the COVID-19, which has already been declared a global pandemic, has presented a number of challenges for civil society trying to feed Zimbabweans facing severe food shortages.
However, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches is continuing with its food aid programmes while adhering to maximum precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
The ZCC, through its Canadian Foodgrains Bank projects, has distributed food aid to more than 600 households in Gutu District Ward 4 to ensure food security to vulnerable communities.
The programme started in November last year and has continued even during the current lockdown with ZCC engaging less than 50 people per gathering.
Strict social distancing is also adhered to during these programmes.
President Mnangangwa announced a raft of restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Zimbabwe where the first case was recorded on March 20, 2020.
Nine cases have been confirmed resulting with one death.
Zimbabwe is currently in the first week of a 21-day lockdown.
The ZCC food distribution programme has benefitted 3 110 individuals at Denhere Shopping Centre, Gwiranenzara Primary School and Chiguhune Primary School, respectively.
The beneficiaries have cumulatively 31 100kgs of mealie-meal, 6 220kgs of sugar-beans and 3 110 litres of cooking oil.
In an interview during one of the distribution programmes, Miss Margret Chidondo, a beneficiary, applauded the ZCC for assisting the disadvantaged across Zimbabwe.
“I am very grateful for the continuous generosity that has been extended to us by Christian organisations. Our harvests were bad due to the drought last season the ZCC has assisted us with food and that goes a long way in our livelihoods,” she said.
She hailed the ZCC for prioritizing women.
“We have been empowered in our community this shows how much serious gender balance issues are being addressed in our communities,” Chibondo said.
Most families in the district failed to harvest enough food during the 2018/2019 agricultural season.
Masvingo province is one of the most affected areas in Zimbabwe.
The intervention by ZCC is expected to go a long way in addressing the needs of the people in the province.
The ZCC Masvingo regional programmes manager Ms Maria Dendere said the ZCC has been strictly adhering to government initiatives to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus.
“As ZCC we have seen the need to continue supporting vulnerable communities in Gutu district with food stuff, psycho-social support as well as child protection trainings. “We have put in place sanitising equipment to ensure that we avoid the spread of the corona virus and beneficiaries who wash their hands.
“We have also reduced the number of villages we serve at a time so as to maintain the gazetted number of people per gathering of less than fifty.”
The ZCC has also taken the opportunity to preach the gospel of self-protection and self-isolation during the programme.
“We continuously keep encouraging individuals to follow all the necessary measures, avoiding physical contact with one another and respect authorities in this time to lessen the spread of the deadly virus,” Mrs Dendere said.
Mrs Dendere said that her organisation has been working with relevant government ministries to ensure that the aid received is channelled to the rightful beneficiaries.
“It always remains the duty of the humanitarian actors to intervene with aid in such circumstances like drought and other phenomenon and we will engage government authorities to ensure that aid is given to the rightful people”, she said.
The ZCC is among a number of organisations providing food aid for the vulnerable communities in districts like Bikita, Gutu, Chipinge and Zaka.