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State of Disaster in Zimbabwe Announced by President Mnangagwa in Response to Drought Caused by El Niño

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louis Buyisiwe

Apr 3, 2024

Hunger crisis Southern Africa

Humanitarian agencies including the World Food Programme (WFP), which fed 270,000 people between January and March in four districts, have described the hunger situation as "dire", calling on donors to provide more aid.  The drought in Southern Africa has reached crisis levels with Botswana and Angola to the west, and Mozambique and Madagascar to the east also facing hunger.
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Harare, Zimbabwe – In a somber announcement, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared the current drought in Zimbabwe, spurred by the El Niño weather phenomenon, a national disaster. The government is now appealing for over $2 billion in humanitarian aid to combat the severe food shortages affecting millions.

This declaration comes on the heels of similar distress calls from neighboring nations like Zambia and Malawi, spotlighting the wider humanitarian crisis unfolding across Southern Africa due to erratic weather patterns.

The Scale of the Crisis

Zimbabwe, known for its rich agricultural heritage, finds itself in a precarious position as over 2.7 million of its citizens face the grim prospect of hunger this year alone. President Mnangagwa highlighted that a staggering 80% of the nation has been hit with inadequate rainfall, leading to widespread crop failures.

Strategic Responses to the Drought

In response to the crisis, the Zimbabwean government is setting its sights on winter cropping to bolster food reserves. A collaborative effort with the private sector is also underway to facilitate the importation of essential grains to mitigate the shortage.

The Role of Humanitarian Agencies

Agencies like the World Food Programme (WFP) are at the forefront of the relief efforts, having provided sustenance to 270,000 individuals in critical districts between January and March. However, with the situation escalating, there is an urgent call for increased donor support to address the burgeoning needs.

Understanding El Niño

El Niño is a complex weather pattern characterized by the warming of ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific, which can lead to widespread changes in weather across the globe. For Zimbabwe, this has meant reduced rainfall and consequent crop failures, particularly in regions reliant on maize, a staple food.

The drought's impact stretches beyond Zimbabwe, with nations like Botswana, Angola, Mozambique, and Madagascar also grappling with food insecurity. This collective challenge underscores the need for a coordinated regional and international response to avert further humanitarian disasters.

Call to Action

As Zimbabwe navigates this crisis, the call for global solidarity and support is louder than ever. The plight of millions hangs in the balance, awaiting a hand of help to pull them through one of the most challenging periods in the nation's recent history.

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