Zimbabwe Faces Hunger Crisis as Drought Decimates Crops

El Nino Drought Leaves Millions in Zimbabwe Starving for Food

by Oluwatosin Alabi

In the heart of Zimbabwe, a humanitarian crisis unfolds as the country grapples with severe hunger issues, compounded by the devastating effects of the El Nino-induced drought. The small village of Buhera, located some 220 km southeast of the capital, Harare, offers a poignant glimpse into the daily struggles faced by the Zimbabwean people. Here, villagers gather at a primary school, awaiting their names to be called for the distribution of essential food supplies—grain, peas, and cooking oil. Among them is 71-year-old Mushaikwa, who, with her elderly husband, relies on these handouts for survival. Yet, she knows the supplies will last them only a month. Her despair is echoed in the wilted crops surrounding her home, a testament to the harsh reality of Zimbabwe’s agricultural collapse.

Zimbabwe’s journey into food insecurity can be traced back to the year 2000, following the controversial land reforms initiated by former President Robert Mugabe. The seizure of white-owned farms disrupted agricultural production, leading to a sharp decline in output and forcing many Zimbabweans to depend on food aid. This situation has only deteriorated with the onset of the El Nino weather phenomenon, which has ravaged not just Zimbabwe but several other Southern African nations. The Zimbabwean government estimates that 2.7 million people will face hunger this year, though the actual figure may well be higher. A government minister disclosed to Reuters the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in light of the crisis.

El Nino, a naturally occurring event characterized by the disruption of wind patterns and warmer ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific, brings with it a suite of extreme weather conditions, including droughts and tropical cyclones. Its impact on Zimbabwe has been profound, with the country’s staple maize harvest expected to plummet to just 1.1 million tons this year.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been on the front lines, providing assistance to 270,000 people across four drought-prone districts between January and March. However, Christine Mendes, WFP’s acting country director, emphasized the urgent need for additional funding to expand their relief efforts.

The personal stories emerging from Buhera are heart-wrenching. Mary Takawira, a 47-year-old resident, lamented over her crop that dried up before reaching maturity. “I do not remember the taste of (corn) anymore,” she expressed, bracing for a challenging year ahead.

This dire situation in Zimbabwe is a stark reminder of the complexities surrounding food security, climate change, and sustainable agricultural practices. As the country faces a significant grain deficit amid the El Nino drought, calls for innovative solutions such as cloud seeding and the urgent need for international aid have become louder. The story of Zimbabwe’s hunger crisis is not just a tale of climatic woes but a call to action for the global community to come together in support of sustainable development and resilience against climate adversity.

Source: NewZimbabwe.com

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