More than five million people in Zimbabwe, about a third of the population need food aid, with many coming close to starving, the United Nations said.
It has launched a $331m (£270m) appeal for aid as the country battles the effects of drought, a cyclone and an economic crisis. The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said many were “in crisis emergency mode… marching towards starvation”.
Once a regional bread basket, Zimbabwe has suffered years of turmoil.
Recent harvests have been badly affected by drought and the price of food has risen sharply. Low water levels have also hit the main hydro-electric plant at Kariba, triggering rolling power cuts across the country.
The country is also facing a financial crisis and has reintroduced the Zimbabwe dollar a decade after it was abandoned amidst rampant inflation.
Launching the appeal on Tuesday, WFP head David Beasley said about 2.5 million people were on the cusp of starvation. “We are talking about people who truly are marching towards starvation if we are not here to help them,” he said.
“We are facing a drought unlike any that we have seen in a long time.”
Zimbabwe’s problems were exacerbated when Cyclone Idai swept through the region earlier this year.