BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has launched a US$67,9 million emergency food aid appeal in the face of El Nino-induced drought in Zimbabwe and the region.
The El Nino weather phenomenon has resulted in planted crops wilting and livestock dying.
A Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac) report shows that the food insecurity situation for January in rural areas stands at 51%, a jump from 28% recorded during the same period last year.
FAO said it was taking no chances with the impending El Nino-induced drought, the second in three years, and is, therefore, launching an emergency appeal to feed hungry Zimbabweans and other southern African nationals.
“This is occurring in a region where the most vulnerable are still grappling with the impact of a strong drought episode in 2015/16, which had already weakened their capacity to produce food. Important lessons were learned from the 2015/16 El Nino, in particular the need to act early on possible early warning signs,” FAO said in its report released on Monday.
“FAO has been closely monitoring the El Nino conditions and related weather patterns in Southern Africa, and is gearing up to act early to mitigate some of the effects on vulnerable people and their livelihoods.
Last month, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Sekai Nzenza revealed that 661 000 are in dire need of food assistance. Reports from Chiredzi and Chivi show that communities had already exhausted their food reserves and face starvation. They are also losing livestock to the ravaging drought.