Zambia Announces State of Emergency in Response to Worsening Drought

Zambia Announces State of Emergency in Response to Worsening

Zambia Announces State of Emergency in Response to Worsening

Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema declared a national disaster in response to a prolonged drought. In a national address, President Hichilema revealed that 84 out of the 116 districts in Zambia are grappling with the impact of poor rainfall, raising serious concerns about potential food shortages and the nation’s ability to meet its electricity demands. Zambia heavily relies on water sources for its energy, and the water levels at the Kariba Dam, a critical hydroelectric power source shared with neighboring Zimbabwe, had dwindled to around 11.5% of usable storage by December 2023.

The president underscored that the drought is expected to hamper the generation of more than 450 megawatts of power, significantly affecting the country’s energy supply. Furthermore, the dry spell has adversely affected nearly half of the land dedicated to crop planting. Hichilema emphasized that his government is committed to bringing in additional maize and food to address the looming deficit caused by the drought.

Acknowledging the severity of the situation, President Hichilema announced the deployment of Zambia’s defense forces in the fight against the crisis, aiming to save lives and families while creating a sustainable long-term solution to drought-related challenges. He called for a collaborative effort involving farmers, local and international partners, opposition politicians, and the church to tackle the crisis collectively.

The president urged farmers to adopt irrigation methods to cope with the dry spell. Approximately one million farmers have been impacted by the drought, exacerbating national food security concerns. Hichilema also expressed gratitude for the commitment of various partners, including the British government, the UN system, the World Bank Group, and others, who have offered support.

Social media has become a platform for sharing visuals depicting fields with dying crops, highlighting the tangible impact of the drought on agricultural activities. President Hichilema’s declaration of a national disaster reflects the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for coordinated efforts to address the challenges of the prolonged drought.

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