The disastrous effects of El Niño. More than half of the country's population needs food aid

Luc Williams

Zimbabwe trying to recover from the effects El Niño weather phenomenon, which limited corn production and led to the declaration of a natural disaster in the country. The Government of Zimbabwe stated that by March next year, more than half of the country's population will need urgent food assistance.

“A total of 7.7 million people, or 51 percent. population, will need food aid,” said Jenfan Muswere, information minister, at a post-cabinet briefing in the capital Harare on Tuesday.

Rural areas will suffer the most

Rural areas are most affected by the food crisis, where 6 million people will need to receive food aid by the first quarter of next year. According to Muswere, a report by the Zimbabwe Livelihoods Assessment Commission puts the number of people in need of food assistance in urban areas at 1.7 million.

Estimates of damage to corn crops are rising

The Ministry of Agriculture has raised its estimate of damage to Zimbabwe's maize production this season to 77%. The previous loss estimate was 72%.

The country estimates production at 744,271 tons of corn. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe consumes 2.2 million tonnes of maize annually, of which 1.8 million tonnes is used for food and 400,000 tonnes for livestock feed.

El Niño devastates the region

El Niño weather phenomenon caused a period of drought in southern Africa that reduced South Africa's maize harvest by at least a fifth and prompted countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe to declare a state of disaster due to crop failures.

“The entire southern African region experienced an El Niño season, though Zimbabwe seemed to be the epicenter of this phenomenon,” Muswere said.

The UN appeals for help for Zimbabwe

Last week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs appealed for $429 million in aid to Zimbabwe. The agency also asked humanitarian partners for $228 million for Zambia.


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