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Zim needs US$2bn for drought response

Zim needs US$2bn for drought response


Zimbabwe requires US$2bn for drought response after El Nino destroyed 80% of the country’s cereals, leaving millions food insecure, President Mnangagwa has said.

The Southern African nation which was confident that it will harvest one million tonnes of maize this year, panicked after they saw the fast depletion of the strategic grain reserves.

“Preliminary assessments show that Zimbabwe requires in excess of US$2bn towards various interventions we envisage in the spectrum of our national response.

“The strategic grain reserve holds 189 568 metric tonnes of cereals. This constitutes 145 604 metric tonnes of maize and 43 964 metric tonnes of traditional grains. My administration has made a decision to allocate 138 905 metric tonnes of surplus wheat towards our strategic grain reserve. This will give a combined total of about 356 000 metric tonnes of cereals in our strategic grain reserve.

“We expect 868 273 metric tonnes from this season’s harvest hence our nation faces a food cereal deficit of nearly 680 000 metric tonnes of grain. This deficit will be bridged by imports. Measures to encourage private sector participation in this regard are already in place,” President Mnangwagwa said.

The request for the food aid comes as President Mnangagwa proclaimed the country’s severe drought to be a State of National Disaster, paving the way for the administration to gather resources to avert possible starvation.

 The action is being taken at a time when the region is experiencing drought brought on by the devastating El Nino, countries are taking steps to minimise the harm.

This coincides with the country’s dry conditions that have destroyed a larger portion of the farmers’ crop yield , prompting experts to call for a state of emergency and contract relief organisations.

“The foregoing situation of climate change induced drought requires measures and interventions as provided for in our laws. To that end, I do hereby declare a national state of disaster due to the El Nino-induced drought,” President Mnagagwa said.

“Accordingly I now invoke Section 27, subsection 1 of the civil protection act (chapter 10:06) which provides that: if at any time it appears tenth president that any disaster of such a nature and extent that extraordinary measures are necessary to assist and protect the persons affected or likely to be affected by the disaster in a nay country, the President may in such a manner as he considers fit declare that with effect from a date specified by him a state of disaster exists within an area or areas specified by him in the declaration.

“By this declaration, I also call upon all Zimbabweans of goodwill, including those in the diaspora; the international community, United Nations Agencies, Development and Humanitarian Partners, International Financial Institutions; the private sector, churches and other faith-based organisations, as well as individuals to generously donate towards ameliorating this State of National Disaster,” he said.

The USAID’s food security division, FewsNet, predicted a poor harvest this year , which will affect household food access for the duration of the post-harvest period.

It predicted that high food costs and restricted access to chances for earning cash would exacerbate the situation and cause crisis levels in traditional deficit-producing regions.

The impact of the drought combined with continuing macro-economic challenges have resulted in food insecurity.

President Mnagagwa’s statement follows the recent national disaster declarations of the Republic of Zambia and Malawi due to the drought. President Hakainde Hichilema indicated that the country’s agricultural sector has been severely damaged, leaving over a million families in need of food assistance.

He said about 84 of the 116 districts in the nation have already been impacted by the drought, according to President Hichilema.

Due to drought, 23 of Malawi’s 28 districts were also placed under a state of calamity.

Lazarus Chakwera, the president of Malawi, also disclosed that the nation needs more than US$200m in humanitarian aid.

Responding to President Mnangagwa’s Declaration of State of Disaster. Edward Kallon, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator, acknowledges the severe impact of the ongoing dry spell in Zimbabwe and the Southern African region.

“This crisis has far reaching consequences across various sectors such as food and nutrition security, health, water resources, education and livelihoods , highlighting the urgency of the situation.

“The UN emphasizes the importance of enhancing resilience-building and climate adaptation efforts to address the effects of such extreme weather events and to combat the overreaching climate crisis,” Kallon said.

He added: “The UN recognises the government of Zimbabwe and that of the humanitarian partners for proactive planning and early actions to bolster community resilience.

So far, the UN, as part of the national anticipatory action and early response, allocated US$5m from the Central Emergency Response Fund (UNCERF) in December 2023.

“The sectors targeted with the advance allocation include water, hygiene and sanitation Health (WASH), including response to the cholera outbreak, protection as well as agriculture and food security and nutrition.

The UN pledges its support to the government of Zimbabwe in mobilising resources to tackle the El Nino induced drought and efforts are underway to finalise a response plan focusing on food security, health, education, shelter and other essential areas to address the needs of those affected by the crisis.

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