El Nino: Unpacking Zim’s appeal

07 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
El Nino: Unpacking Zim’s appeal Zimbabwe, like most countries in the SADC region, is in the grip of an El Nino-induced drought

The ManicaPost

 

Nick Mangwana
Perm Secretary Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services

AS the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change and associated natural shocks, Zimbabwe has shown a lot thought leadership in cushioning its populace through a number of safety nets.

Safety nets are not a silver bullet in the protection of the vulnerable.

They have to work in conjunction with fore-sighted policies put in place to protect vulnerable groups.

Zimbabwe is implementing long-term plans to protect the country from hydro-meteorological hazards and shocks. We are one of the most dammed in the region.

 

This stemmed from a deliberate Government policy to harvest as much rainfall as possible.

What is left, and is being worked on, are the conveyance systems to move the water to the field and to the end user.

 

But while this is being worked on, we still have the current El-Nino induced drought to protect the populace from.

Zimbabwe, like most countries in the SADC region, is in the grip of an El Nino-induced drought.

 

As a result, President Mnangagwa declared a State of Disaster in terms of Section 27.1 of the Civil Protection Act (Chapter 10:06).

The President also launched a domestic and international appeal which some people are genuinely, as well as mischievously, misinterpreting.

We have had some innuendos being peddled around the issue of quantum.

 

Why is Zimbabwe appealing for a higher figure than other countries in the region with bigger population?

This is one of the questions being asked.

 

To allay any suspicion, misgivings and mistrusts, let us unpack Zimbabwe’s US$3,9 billion appeal.

Zimbabwe’s appeal is based on three areas or pillars: Search and Rescue, Mitigation and Resilience building.

Under Search and Rescue, relevant Government arms will identify and provide assistance to deserving beneficiaries.

 

For Mitigation, measures will start to be implemented to alleviate the impact of the El Nino-induced drought.

 

On the other hand, Resilience is focused on long-term measures to ensure communities can cope sustainably with the drought effects.

The whole appeal therefore comprises US$2 billion for Search and Rescue and Mitigation plus US$1,9 billion for Resilience.

 

That is how we get to US$3,9 billion.

 

Contrary to some narratives by the not so informed, the whole $3,9 billion is not just for importing grain.

 

Clear?

At the heart of this approach is the avoidance of a consumptive attitude, but one in which Zimbabwe should emerge from with strong inbuilt absorbers able to withstand future climate-induced shocks.

It means that the food insecure will be supplied, but one eye will always remain focused on the future.

The Mitigation comprises the food that is distributed by the Department of Social Welfare, food production through irrigated cereals and the importation of grain by Government.

 

This also includes the movement of grain from areas with surplus to areas with deficits. Besides the grain relief itself, there are households that actually need water.

We can’t just give food without making potable water available.

 

We are adopting a holistic approach which is need based.

 

Further, there is a cost in the development of the agriculture information system.

Let’s address Resilience Cost

All farmers receiving social welfare support must adopt Pfumvudza/Intwasa in the next season.
This will help improve yield per acre.

 

Some of the resilience money will go towards irrigation.

 

Government has an intention to make sure summer irrigation increases from 75 000 to 350 000 hectares.

 

This factor alone will take about US$6 million from the appeal figure.

Establishing a revised Strategic Grain Reserve of 1,5 million tonnes will cost about US$150 million.

 

We are going to financially capacitate ARDA to produce about 45 percent of the summer cereals and 300 000 tonnes of the 2024 winter production.

 

You see?

This is not just about food imports or purchases, but goes well beyond that simplistic view.

Farmers, institutions and workers will all be capacitated as a means of building resilience which can help with the management of future shocks.

Now, let us explore the Government measures being put in place for each sector.

 

During the 2023/24 agricultural season, about 1 728 897 hectares had been put under maize crop and other cereals throughout the country.

In other years, this would have been enough to feed our people and livestock.

However, the late start of the agricultural season and prolonged dry spell reduced yields in most parts of the country and crop failure was widespread.

 

As a result, there is a deficit of about 680 000 tonnes of grain and cereal for consumption.

 

What is the Government going to do about the grain deficit?

The focus is on importing grain and strengthening of the winter cropping programme.

Livestock will get supplementary feed.

 

In addition, irrigation schemes are being added and capacitated to ensure sustainable livelihoods in communities.

On a more personal or individual basis, drought equals hunger.

 

When people hear “drought” they automatically think “nzara”, understandably so.

The Urban Livelihoods Assessment Report 2024 projected that about 1,7 million people in urban areas and about 80 percent of the rural populace will be food insecure.

But let me assure you gentle reader that as declared by His Excellency President Mnangagwa, no one will die of hunger in Zimbabwe!

 

When he declared a nationwide State of Disaster, the President promised that “top of our priority is securing food for all Zimbabweans.

 

No Zimbabwean must succumb to or die from hunger”.

Adequate resources will therefore, be mobilised and re-directed towards national food security, including through supplementary grain imports.”

And indeed, the whole of Government is working round the clock to ensure that is so.

 

Government is supporting urbanites with cash for food transfers.

Registration of people eligible to receive the monthly Government cash allowances has already started.

The cash allowances will be given unconditionally to households without enough food, and where people cannot work due to old age or disability.

For households that do not have enough food, but there are people who are able to work, the cash transfers would be conditional.

 

Fair right?

One hopes of course that some will not spend the money on illicit brew.

For learners impacted by the drought, Government and partners will undertake school feeding programmes while the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) will be prioritised.

For the rural populace, His Excellency directed that the Zunde Ramambo/Isiphala seNkosi be decentralised to chiefs with each one being given five tonnes of grain per ward.

 

The grain will be distributed along existing structures in the communities.

 

Chiefs are the closest point of contact with people in the rural areas, they know their people, they live with them, they know the vulnerable households.

And working together with partners, I am confident that everyone in need will be catered for.

I know that hunger is most people’s nightmare when they hear the word drought, but let me highlight that there are other associated negative consequences such as increase in outbreak of infectious and diarrhoeal diseases like cholera and malaria.

 

Provision of safe water therefore becomes a priority.

 

To this end, the Presidential Borehole Drilling Scheme comes in handy.

The scheme was initiated in 2023 to improve availability of clean water by providing solar-powered boreholes in 35 000 villages across the country.

It was later extended to urban areas.

 

The scheme has now been further enhanced to include nutrition gardens and fish ponds.

Existing water systems are also being rehabilitated.

 

Of course, with drought comes low capacity to generate hydroelectric power.

 

Households will likely suffer from constrained power availability.

 

On this one, Government’s investment in thermal and solar power is expected to alleviate the situation.

Interventions are also being made to lessen the effects of the El Nino-induced drought on the environment and natural resources as well as the livelihoods of those who operate Micro, Small and Medium enterprises.

Over and above all these interventions, particular attention will be paid to special interest groups such as women, children and persons with disabilities to ensure that their vulnerabilities are not exploited.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me say this once and for all.

 

The declaration of a State of Disaster and an Appeal does not mean that a country is at a standstill.

We cannot stop droughts, natural shocks and such disasters, but we take our responsibilities as Government seriously. We will look for the hungry and feed them.

We will look for the thirsty and succour them with water.

We are not very rich in developmental terms but we are doing our best to efficiently deploy the limited resources we have for the feeding of our people and building resilience.

We appreciate those friends and partners who have put their heads above the parapet and have put their monies where their mouths are.

 

Together, we will make the promise that no one will starve to death in Zimbabwe a reality.

Our approach to these natural disasters management is awake to the fact that we are not going to be able to stop these disasters from happening, but we can responsibly equip ourselves to reduce their impact.

This is why President Mnangagwa has called for US$3,9 billion support.

 

We are mitigating today’s challenge and simultaneously building resilience to deal with tomorrow’s shocks.

 

I rest.

 

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