By Lydia O'Kane
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a drought that is threatening millions in the country with starvation.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday declared the drought a national disaster.
The situation has been compounded a by cyclone and an economic crisis which has seen basic items such as rice and sugar double in price since June.
Assistance for those in need
The United Nations and the Government have launched an appeal for $331 million to help those in need. Of that amount, the UN World Food Programme WFP is calling for $173 million. The funds will be used for food aid, provision of water, sanitation and cash based assistance said the Head of Communications for WFP in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, Ashley Baxstrom.
Recent harvests have been severely affected by the drought which has taken its toll on both rural and urban areas, she noted. “The failure of the crops is going to affect the entire population, so we do also have some assessments going to look at food security; those are being undertaken by the government, UN and other partners to look at the food security situation in the urban areas as well.”
She added, “currently this month we’re trying to feed about 515,000; in October we look to scale up to over 1.7 million and then 2 million by January again which is the peak of the season.”
Asked if the current drought was likely to worsen Ms Baxstrom said, “unfortunately it looks like the situation could continue to deepen. There is no way to really predict this course but current outlets are looking that this season could continue to extend on into the next year.”
The UN had previously appealed for $294 million, but as the impact of the drought has worsened, it needs more funding.
Zimbabwe which was known as the bread basket of Africa has been engulfed in years of political turmoil.