Vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa says at least 16 000 beasts have died due to drought which has affected many parts of the country, with Masvingo the hardest hit province, losing at least 6 000 beasts since October last year.
Addressing diplomats at the launch of an international appeal for food aid and drought relief mechanism yesterday, Mnangagwa said the livestock condition was dire and the situation had been compounded by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in parts of the country.
“Cumulative livestock deaths as a result of the drought are currently at 16 681 with Masvingo province being the highest at 6 566,” he said.
Due to the El Nino-induced drought, most water sources for both human and livestock consumption were drying up especially in the southern provinces.
“Boreholes are drying up particularly in the southern provinces and 31% are non-functional, hence, people and livestock have to move in excess of five kilometres in search of water,” Mnangagwa said.
“It is, therefore, clear that there is a threat to human and animal life as safe water, irrigation water and drinking water sources for animals are increasingly drying up.”
Masvingo has one million cattle and the ongoing drought has affected all districts, with the VP stating that destocking, as well as buying supplementary feed were the only options.
“Cattle are walking distances of 15 to 20km in search of water, yet they will be hungry and as a result, they die,” he said.
“The situation poses a threat to household income as households in rural areas normally depend on livestock sales to generate income for food, school fees and healthcare, among other basic needs.”
The VP said at least $138 million was needed for supplementary feeding while $53 million was required for livestock destocking.
“The livestock destocking programme targets 97 417 animals from the affected areas that need to be purchased, 80 000 animals need commercial supplement and 50 000 animals require hay supplement,” he said.