Zim seeks $500m to avert hunger

Zimbabwe is facing one of its worst humanitarian crisis in two decades after it emerged that nearly US$500 million is required to mitigate the effects of an El Niño-induced drought that has seen millions facing hunger while thousands of livestock have already perished, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.

Wongai Zhangazha

The cash-strapped government will be forced to extend its begging bowl to relief agencies and development partners to avert hunger.

The southern parts of the country and the lowveld have been hardest hit experiencing longer dry spells and little or no rainfall, resulting in much of the summer crop being written off. Now government requires 12,5% of the US$4 billion national budget to import grain from as far as Latin America and stock feed to mitigate the crisis.

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The World Food Programme said the prolonged dry spell has left 1,5 million people in the country facing hunger.

An informed government official said while President Robert Mugabe has not yet declared the drought a natural disaster, food security has become a priority to avert hunger, adding that a significant financial injection is required soon.

“Priority is being given to special issues like food security and also to special cases to respond to immediate disasters like floods and thunderstorms. However, there is a whole lot of issues that need attention during this period of the impact of the El Niño weather phenomenon,” a senior government official said.

“There is need for investment in water, protection of livestock with the number of livestock deaths increasing by the day to more than 10 000 for the year 2014-2015 and Chipinge is one of the districts in the country being greatly affected by livestock deaths. Resources are desperately needed and we are looking at more than US$500 million to avoid any disasters. The money will be used for food security, water, livestock protection and even health issues because usually, after such disasters, health issues always arise, and day-to-day logistics.”

Civil Protection Department deputy director Sibusisiwe Ndlovu said she was not in a position to state how much was needed to deal with the ravaging impact of the drought.

“The picture will be clearer or updated after the ongoing assessments on food security, water availability and livestock pastures. The impact of the drought is situational; certain reliefs might not be for everyone.

“It will depend on how certain areas have received rainfalls and have harvested. Areas with very little or no rainfall will be treated as dire areas,” said Ndlovu before referring further questions to the department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services and the Social Welfare ministry.

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