President Robert Mugabe has finally declared a state of disaster in drought-hit areas in the country. Mugabe rose to the declaration after the European Union called on him to do so, as it would propel worldwide donors to come to the country’s aid.
Drought has degenerated most rural areas in most South African countries. In Zimbabwe, areas like Limpopo, Harare, Masvingo and so many others have been plunged into severe hunger and penury. An estimated 2.4 million people are currently wallowing under the whips of severe hunger. Nevertheless, on Wednesday, the World Bank said drought and weak global commodity prices would see to a growth of 1.5 per cent this year.
Following the exacerbation of the El Nino weather occurrence, millions of people now face severe hunger. In fact, The United Nations World Food Programme said an estimated 14 million person in Southern Africa face hunger because of drought. Apart from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa are badly affected.
Speaking to BBC, Charity Oxfam director Jan Vossen said, “With rains failing almost completely this year, the situation is getting desperate.”
“In certain parts of the country, we even see that people, farmers, are using the thatch of their roofs to feed their cattle.”
Issuing a statement yesterday, Zimbabwe’s local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere said that 26 per cent [a total of 2.44 million ] of the country’s population now need food assistance. He also said that Zimbabwe received less than 75 per cent of normal rains.
Moving forward, he reiterated that dam levels in the country are also failing, as the average capacity of dam levels is measured 51 per cent. Three quarters of crops have failed to yield increase in some regions. Not only that, he stated that Kariba, which is the country’s largest hydro power plant, decreases power generation by only 62 per cent. The minister finalized by saying “Given the foregoing, His Excellency the President has declared a state of disaster to severely affected areas in communal and resettlement lands of Zimbabwe effective from February 2, 2016.”
However, Zimbabwean government has urged victims not worry, as there are plans to import maize from Zambia. The government has promised to import up to 700,000 tonnes of staple maize this year to forestall hunger.
Agricultural sector seems to have suffered the biggest lost so far. Lack of rain has caused a drastic reduction in crop production. Tobacco and cotton farmers are beginning to accept the weather condition too. Depreciation in rain did not spare South Africa, the biggest maize producer in Southern Africa region.
Taking a practical look at the situation, many believe the drought in Africa is now worse than the drought of the mid-1980s during which hundreds of thousands of people died because they did not have anything to eat. Many have also feared that they might die even before rain comes.
Away from Southern Africa, across East Africa, reports say close to 20 million people will need to be assisted with food with this year’s rain failure.