Zimbabwe declares state of disaster over drought

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe declares state of disaster in drought-affected regions, calling for international support

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has declared a state of disaster in most rural parts of the country severely hit by a drought.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has announced a state of disaster in most rural parts of his country amid a drought affecting 26 percent of the population.

The declaration calls on international donors to donate financial support to provide food aid.

Zimbabwe has said it will step up imports of staple maize by buying up to 700,000 tonnes this year to prevent hunger.  

Saviour Kasukuwere, a local government minister, reported that Zimbabwe had received 75 percent of normal rainfall, with about three quarters of crops failing in some areas. 

Kasukuwere also said dam levels were decreasing and were at an average capacity of 51 percent. 

"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 Feb. 2, 2016," he said.

Kasukuwere said 26 percent of Zimbabwe's population - about 2.44 million people - are in need of food aid.  

The El Nino weather pattern has led to poor rains which have caused crop failures in Africa, including in South Africa, the region’s biggest maze producer.  

The World Bank said on Wednesday the drought and weak global commodity prices means Zimbabwe will see economic growth of 1.5 percent this year - the same as last year - though the country forecast that its economy would expand by 2.7 percent this year.  

Zimbabwe is still struggling to overcome a steep 1999-2008 recession that led its economy to contract by nearly 50 percent. The latest drought is expected to intensify the problem.  

TRTWorld, Reuters