Mnangagwa appeals for donations as El Niño drought ravages Southern Africa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urgently called upon all Zimbabweans, including those in the diaspora, the international community, United Nations agencies, development and humanitarian partners, international financial institutions, churches, the private sector, and individuals, to “generously donate” in order to mitigate what he has termed a national disaster.

This declaration comes after the 2023/2024 summer cropping season was officially classified as a national disaster due to the severe impact of the El Niño induced drought that has devastated the southern Africa region.

In a national address delivered from the State House in Harare on Wednesday, April 03 2024, Mnangagwa cited the Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment Committee Report for 2023, which estimates that 2.7 million people in the country will face food insecurity from April 2023 until the end of March 2024.

The President acknowledged government’s efforts to mitigate the crisis but warned that the number of food insecure individuals is expected to rise.

“The current agricultural season of 2023/2024 has not met expectations due to the El Niño induced drought. Over 80% of our country experienced below-normal rainfall,” Mnangagwa said.

“Despite planting a total of 1,728,897 hectares of maize and cereals, this did not guarantee a bountiful harvest. Compounding the situation was the outbreak of the fall armyworm,” he continued.

“To that end, I do hereby declare a nationwide State of Disaster, due to the El Nino- induced drought,” the president announced. He assured that the government will work to ensure that all vulnerable households receive food supplies in time.”

In declaring the national disaster, Mnangagwa invoked the legal provisions of the Civil Protection Act [Chapter 10:06], which establishes protection organizations and civil protection services in times of disaster. It also provides for the creation of a fund to finance civil protection.

Mnangagwa stated that the strategic grain reserve currently holds 189,568 metric tonnes of cereal; which include 145,604 metric tonnes of maize and 43,964 metric tonnes of traditional grains. He said his administration has allocated 138,905 metric tonnes of surplus wheat towards the country’s strategic grain reserve. However, the country faces a nationwide food deficit of 680,000 metric tonnes of grain.

Securing food for all Zimbabweans is the government’s top priority, Mnangagwa insisted, adding that resources will be mobilised and re-directed towards national food security, including through supplementary grain imports.

Preliminary assessments indicate that Zimbabwe requires over US$2 billion for various interventions.

Mnangagwa appealed to all Zimbabweans, including the diaspora, the international community, United Nations agencies, development and humanitarian partners, international financial institutions, churches, the private sector, and individuals to “generously donate” towards alleviating the national disaster.

The El-Nino induced drought has resulted in significant crop losses for the 2023/2024 cropping season.

El Niño is a naturally occurring weather phenomenon characterized by disrupted wind patterns and warmer ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific.

It occurs every two to seven years, lasts nine to 12 months, and can lead to extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, prolonged droughts, and wildfires—which have become more pronounced in recent years due to the effects of climate change.

Zambia and Malawi are among the other southern African countries that have declared states of national disaster.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has assisted 270,000 people in four drought-prone districts in Zimbabwe between January and March, but additional funds are needed to provide food aid to more affected individuals, according to Christine Mendes, the acting country director of WFP.

Source: Kukurigo