Zimbabwe declares hunger alert


(MENAFN) Zimbabwe has officially declared a national state of disaster in response to a severe drought that continues to grip the nation. President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the declaration, emphasizing the urgent need for assistance to address the dire food shortages affecting millions of people across the country. Mnangagwa underscored the gravity of the situation, stating that over 2.7 million Zimbabweans are at risk of food insecurity due to extremely low rainfall.

During a press conference in Harare, President Mnangagwa expressed determination to prevent any Zimbabwean from succumbing to hunger. He formalized the government's response to the crisis by declaring a nationwide state of disaster, attributing the situation to the El Nino-induced drought. Mnangagwa outlined the significant financial requirements for addressing the crisis, estimating that Zimbabwe would need more than USD2 billion to implement various interventions as part of the national response.

The government's strategy includes prioritizing winter cropping to bolster food reserves and collaborating with the private sector to import essential grains. Zimbabwe's declaration follows similar actions by neighboring countries in southern Africa, including Malawi and Zambia, which have also designated droughts as national disasters. The severity of the situation is exacerbated by the El Nino weather phenomenon, characterized by disrupted wind patterns and elevated ocean temperatures in the Pacific.

The impact of the drought on Zimbabwe's agricultural sector has been profound, with most provinces experiencing crop failures since November. Hotter regions have particularly suffered, resulting in significant losses of staple crops such as corn. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has identified the current El Nino event as one of the strongest on record, with above-normal temperatures expected to persist until May. As Zimbabwe grapples with the ongoing crisis, international assistance and collaborative efforts are crucial in mitigating the humanitarian impact of the drought and ensuring food security for vulnerable populations.

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