No fewer than 40,000 households are facing food shortages after cyclone Idai ravaged the eastern and southern parts of Zimbabwe recently, a cabinet minister on Tuesday said.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, July Moyo, said this in Harare.
Moyo said the death toll now stands at 179 and is expected to go up as more than 300 people are still missing while at least 186 were injured, 38 of them seriously.
The cyclone hit Zimbabwe from neighbouring Mozambique mid-March, killing people and leaving a trail of destruction as infrastructure and people’s homes were washed away by floods.
The minister said the government was continuing with relief efforts to ensure affected communities are provided with aid.
He also denied reports that food aid was being distributed in a partisan manner in favour of ruling ZANU-PF supporters.
The distribution systems that had been put in place were free of any political manipulation, he said.
“It really becomes unfortunate when sensationalisation of what is happening starts to take centre stage,” he said.
He said as part of rescue efforts, the government had secured specially trained sniffer dogs from South Africa to help in searching for dead bodies.
“We still have a large number that is missing and even from that large number which has been reported missing we think we still have some who have not (yet) been reported missing,” he said.
With government saying 40,064 households are food insecure, the World Food Programme said it plans to mount an emergency operation to provide food assistance to approximately 270,000 people affected by Cyclone Idai.
Meanwhile, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Paul Mavima said up to 80 schools were affected by the cyclone.
Some, including St Charles Luwanga School in Chimanimani where two pupils died, had been closed.
“Some of the affected schools will have to be relocated to other places,” he said.