THE government has issued a national and international appeal for over $1,5 billion in efforts to cope with the current El Nino-induced drought threatening nearly 3 million locals.
This follows last week’s declaration of the drought as a State of Emergency by President Robert Mugabe, paving way for a concerted appeal for assistance by the government and the international community.
Speaking at the official launch of the appeal in Harare Tuesday evening, Vice President and chairperson of the special cabinet committee on emergency responses to drought-induced disasters, Emmerson Mnangagwa said the amount being sought would be channeled
towards grain imports, livestock support and destocking, rehabilitating emergency irrigation infrastructure, among other purposes.
“Due to the interlinkages of the various sectors in the economy, the disaster is anticipated to affect a wide range of sectors including the manufacturing sector and the energy sector,” Mnangagwa said.
“However, the most affected sectors are food and nutrition, agriculture, water, education, health, and wildlife.
“Based on these needy sectors, the government of Zimbabwe requires a total of US$1 572 009 953.00 with effect from February to December 2016.
“This is for providing humanitarian assistance in the short to medium term also taking into account sustainable measures which will assist in the event that the drought prolongs to the 2016/17 agricultural season.”
Of the targeted sectors, grain importation has the largest budget which stands at $717 292 000. It is followed by emergency irrigation infrastructure which requires $350 million, with the education-school feeding program seeking $199 659 077.
Since the current drought period started, 16 000 cattle have died countrywide due to lack of pastures.
The government has appealed for $138 701 190 towards livestock support and an additional $53 878 825 towards livestock restocking.
The amount being raised is aimed at assisting the country between the immediate and the next harvest period in March next year.
Mnangagwa said donations can be made directly to the affected communities through existing formal structures at the district, provincial and national levels.
Assistance can be in cash or food items “palatable to the populations” and these include maize, mealie-meal, small grains, flour, sugar beans, and other legumes, dried fish and various types of dried vegetables, powdered milk, peanut butter, cooking oil, sugar, salt, Maheu and baby formula.
Non-food items include soap, water containers; pharmaceuticals, and sanitary ware.
Mnangagwa, who was flanked by Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Joseph Made, called on Zimbabweans, both locals and those in the diaspora, to render assistance in whatever form.
He denied opposition allegations that the Zanu PF government was parceling out food aid along partisan lines.
The current drought has affected the entire country with traditionally low receiving regions such as Masvingo, Matebeleland North and South provinces worst hit.