Zimbabwe Declares El Nino Drought a National Disaster, Appeals $2 Billion Aid

Wed Apr 03 2024
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HARARE: Zimbabwe on Wednesday declared drought a national disaster, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa saying the country needed $2 billion in aid to help millions of affected people who are facing hungry.

Addressing the press, President Mnangagwa emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “No Zimbabwean must succumb or die from hunger.” He officially declared a nationwide state of disaster due to the El Nino-induced drought, underscoring the urgent need for immediate action to address the crisis.

The drought has left more than 2.7 million people without sufficient food this year, exacerbated by poor rains that have significantly impacted agricultural production. President Mnangagwa revealed that the current grain harvest is expected to yield just over half of the cereals needed to sustain the nation, further intensifying the food insecurity situation.

The El Nino weather pattern, which emerged in mid-2023, has brought about a prolonged dry spell and soaring temperatures across southern Africa, contributing to widespread devastation in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia. Zimbabwe’s declaration of a national disaster follows similar actions taken by its neighboring countries, highlighting the regional scale of the crisis.

The declaration of a national disaster will facilitate the mobilization of additional resources to address the multifaceted challenges posed by the drought. In addition to food shortages, the drought has also impacted electricity production, with Zimbabwe heavily reliant on hydroelectric power.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the current El Nino is among the five strongest ever recorded, exacerbating global temperatures and contributing to extreme weather events worldwide. The prolonged impact of El Nino is expected to persist, with above-normal temperatures forecasted until May, further exacerbating the challenges faced by affected regions.

Major food-producing areas in southern Africa, including Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, have experienced a significant decline in rainfall during the critical summer growing season. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned of heightened food insecurity risks, emphasizing the urgent need for coordinated international efforts to mitigate the impact of the drought and support affected communities.


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