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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Prepare for drought

Richard Shumba

The government recently declared a state of disaster in the country due to a crippling drought, leaving nearly three million people in dire need of food assistance.

This designation marks the country as the third in southern Africa to sound the alarm over the severe food crisis.

The devastating effects of poor rains have reverberated across the region, affecting an estimated 20 million people who lack regular access to nutritious food, according to the UN’s World Food Programme.

Like its neighbors Zambia and Malawi, which have also declared states of disaster and emergency, Zimbabwe has been severely hit by low rainfall, leading to the decimation of approximately half of the nation’s maize crop –a crucial staple food.

The scarcity of grains has resulted in a surge in food prices, further exacerbating the plight of vulnerable populations. 

Consequently, Zimbabwe is in a race with neighboring countries to secure maize from the international market.

Authorities have warned that the number of people in need of food aid is expected to surpass initial projections of 2.7 million, underscoring the severity and scale of the crisis gripping the nation.

Increased heatwaves, droughts, and floods are already exceeding plants’ and animals’ tolerance thresholds.

Experts point out that climate change interacts with global trends such as unsustainable use of natural resources and growing urbanization just to mention a few thereby jeopardizing the livelihoods of people, especially in rural communities who rely on farming as a source of income.

Since November, most Zimbabwean provinces have experienced crop failure, with some regions writing off staple crops like maize entirely.

The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events continue to intensify prompting the Zimbabwe government to combat the ever-increasing impact of climate change-induced drought, through declaring a nationwide State of Disaster in Zimbabwe.

This announcement comes at a time when the nation is struggling with the overwhelming effects of the El Niño-induced drought, with extreme weather patterns occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage hence exposing millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, Citing the provisions of the Civil Protection Act (Chapter 10:6), President Mnangagwa invoked Section 27, Subsection 1, which empowers the presidency to declare a state of disaster when extraordinary measures are deemed necessary to assist and protect affected individuals.

By invoking this provision, the President aims to mobilize resources and coordinate efforts to mitigate the impact of the drought on vulnerable communities.

In his statement President Mnangagwa reiterates the gravity of the situation, emphasizing the need for swift and coordinated action to safeguard the well-being of Zimbabweans.

He highlights the government’s commitment to providing relief assistance to those affected by the drought, including access to food aid, water supplies, and other essential services.

In response to the declaration, various government agencies, humanitarian organizations, and international partners are expected to ramp up their efforts to assist affected communities.

Meanwhile, El Nino is a naturally occurring weather phenomenon associated with a disruption of wind patterns that means warmer ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific.

Measures such as drought-resistant crop cultivation, water conservation initiatives, and livelihood support programs will be crucial in building resilience and mitigating the long-term impact of drought on Zimbabwe’s economy and society.#TheSun

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