Zimbabwe — With an estimated 2.4m people in Zimbabwe needing food aid as a result of the prolonged drought linked to the El Nino weather pattern, President Mugabe declares ‘a state of disaster’ for food aid.
The announcement comes as 26 per cent of the population – 2.4m people – are said to need food aid.
It is estimated that Zimbabwe will need to step up imports 700,000 tonnes of maize this year to prevent starvation.
Saviour Kasukuwere, the local government minister, said the country had seen less than three quarters of the usual rains – with some regions seeing 75 per cent of their crop falling.
Zimbabwe’s biggest hydro power plant, Kariba, has already cut back electricity generation by 62 percent.
Mr Kasukuwere said: “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 2 February 2016”.
It comes as Philippe Van Damme, the European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe, warned last month that delays in declaring the drought a disaster could limit chances of getting international support at a time when donors are swamped with multiple humanitarian crises in other parts of the world.
Farmers in the country have seen less than 75 per cent of typically rains because of the El Nino phenonmenon
The drought is believed to be caused by the El Nino weather pattern which has also brought drought to neighbouring South Africa – the region’s largest maize grower.