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Zimbabwe Looming Food Crisis Will Leave 2.2 Million People In Need Of Aid, UN Says

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A young boy collects water from a broken main water supply pipe in Kambuzuma, Harare, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Zimbabwe is suffering a hunger and health crisis and economic meltdown amid the political impasse. A cholera outbreak that has spread because of the crumbling health care system and water supply infrastructure has killed more than 2,000 people since August. According to the UN, an estimated 2.2 million people in Zimbabwe will be in need of emergency aid. (AP Photo) | AP

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- The United Nations food agency says Zimbabwe is facing "a looming food crisis" with 2.2 million people – one in four of the rural population – expected to need emergency aid in coming months.

The U.N. World Food Program said Tuesday additional food handouts will start next month and will be scaled up until the next harvests in March.

The agency said rising hunger, mostly in southern districts, was caused by erratic weather, the high cost and shortages of seed and fertilizer in the troubled economy and a 15 percent rise in prices for the corn staple after poor harvests this year.

In years of political and economic turmoil, Zimbabwe has needed regular food handouts. About 1.4 million people in the population of 13 million received food aid last year.

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