People, Environment

Drought Disaster in Zimbabwe

Drought Disaster in ZimbabweDrought Disaster in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe on Friday declared a “state of disaster” in many rural areas hit by a severe drought, with more than a quarter of the population facing food shortages. A regional drought worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon has affected South Africa, Malawi and Zambia as well as Zimbabwe, leaving tens of thousands of cattle dead, dams depleted and crops written off, AFP reported. Formerly known as the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe has suffered perennial shortages in recent years and has relied on importing grain from neighboring countries to meet its needs. “Initial indications were that 1.5 million people were food insecure with all the 60 rural districts being affected,” Saviour Kasukuwere, public works minister, said in a statement. “Overall, the food insecure population has since risen to 2.44 million—26% of the population. With the continued threat of the El Nino-induced drought, the president has declared a state of disaster in regard to severely affected areas.” Mugabe has blamed low farm yields on erratic rains due to climate change and western-imposed sanctions over the government’s tainted human rights record. Critics say the food shortages have been partially caused by the president’s land reforms enacted since 2000.