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World Hunger Fund targets Zimbabwe’s economic crisiscomment (0)

January 3, 2008

With food prices spiraling out of sight and the country’s economy in ruins, the average family in Zimbabwe is struggling to survive.

Store shelves are devoid of basic necessities such as oil, flour, sugar, corn meal and even soap.

Most items can be found on the black market, but few can afford the inflated prices: Buying one tomato would cost some pensioners their entire month’s income.

Southern Baptists are responding to the desperate need by shipping 1,000 boxes of food into the country. Six hundred parcels were scheduled to be delivered before the Christmas holidays with the remainder to arrive soon after.

Baptist Global Response (BGR), a Southern Baptist development and relief organization, purchased the groceries, at a cost of about $70 per box, with money Southern Baptists donated to their World Hunger Fund.

“Southern Baptists care about ministering in a holistic way. Zimbabwe is in dire need,” said Mark Hatfield, who leads BGR work in sub-Saharan Africa. “We can connect people in need with people who care enough to help.”

While the crisis in Zimbabwe isn’t the result of a natural disaster, the economic problem has left the people in the same kind of desperate plight — being unable to afford or acquire the basic necessities of daily life.

Inflation in the country is out of control. In November 2007, Zimbabwe’s chief statistician said it was impossible to calculate the inflation rate because stores didn’t have anything on the shelves to put price tags on.

The last inflation statistic released by the government was 14,000 percent, meaning that last year’s 50-cent loaf of bread would now cost $70 — if a person could find a loaf of bread.

In September 2007, the government tried to check the inflationary spiral by fixing prices on basic necessities.

Stores couldn’t afford to sell at the government prices, however, and many of them simply shut down, forcing basic necessities onto the black market.

The food boxes being delivered contain rice, oil, salt, powdered milk, candles, corned beef, tea, sugar, soap, matches, flour, washing powder and beans.

Besides purchasing the food boxes, BGR also is providing the fuel needed for distribution.

That will allow local Baptist churches to distribute the boxes in their communities to families identified as being in need.

However, with nine out of 10 people in Zimbabwe unable to get proper food, this project will barely scratch the surface of the need.

Gifts to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund may be sent to Baptist Global Response, 402 BNA Drive, Suite 411, Nashville, TN 37217.

Checks should be made out to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. (BP)
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