Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has declared a state of national disaster in the country following severe drought in many rural areas.
Pres. Robert Mugabe declares state of disaster in parts of Zimbabwe hit by drought. A quarter of population said to need food aid.— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) February 5, 2016
The country is experiencing the worst drought in almost two decades that has left 26% of the population facing food shortages.
Initial indications were that 1.5 million people were food insecure with all the 60 rural districts being affected.
Mugabe’s announcement on state radio came as government ministers and United Nations officials warned of an accelerating disaster caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon that has led to drought across southern Africa.
“Initial indications were that 1.5 million people were food insecure with all the 60 rural districts being affected,” public works minister Saviour Kasukuwere said in a statement.
The government has earmarked $200 million for food imports, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa told lawmakers in Harare.
Formerly known as the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe has suffered perennial shortages in recent years and has resorted to importing grain from neighbouring countries to meet its needs.
The drought has also affected regional maize producers South Africa, Malawi and Zambia.