Zim to benefit from EU, El Nino funds


HARARE - With the devastating effects of climate change already being felt and thousands of Zimbabweans now faced with acute food shortages, the European Union (EU) has mobilised funds that will enable the country to handle the El Nino weather phenomenon and its impact.

El Nino is a climatic pattern that occurs above the Pacific Ocean every five years and causes extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods in many regions of the world and Zimbabwe is already experiencing its devastating effects with rains now erratic.

As part of its efforts to mitigate the effects of changing weather patterns, the EU will avail €12 million to seven southern African countries.

“The EU mobilised a total of €125 million for countries affected by ‘El Niño and the funds are going to cover 25 countries from the Caribbean, central Africa, southern Africa, Central and South America as well as the greater horn of Africa.

In a statement released this week the EU said the money is expected to finance emergency actions in affected countries.

“The support, 119 million of which comes from the European Development Fund reserves, and a further €6 million from the humanitarian budget, will contribute to the joint effort of bringing life-saving emergency assistance and increasing resilience in the affected countries,” the EU statement read.

“The EU’s support will combine humanitarian and development assistance, to address immediate needs of nutrition, water and sanitation, health and shelter.

“It will provide support to health structures, provision of food and safe drinking water, supplementary food for pregnant women and children.

“It will also help build resilience in the most exposed countries by enhancing disaster preparedness, early response mechanisms, and supporting long-term development solutions.”

European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said the effects of the El Nino, will undermine global efforts to alleviate poverty if not dealt with rapidly.

“We need to react now so El Nino does not undermine the efforts in poverty alleviation in many countries in the world that we have fought so hard to achieve.

“Today, the EU is boosting its efforts to prevent a crisis that could cause instability in the longer term,” Mimica said.

This comes at a time when food agencies have estimated that at least 1,5 million people in Zimbabwe are facing hunger.

And according to the EU, Ethiopia has been the worst hit country so far, reporting an increase in the number of food insecure people due to drought from 2,9 million in January 2015 to 8,2 million in October 2015.

“EU aid will help meet the urgent needs of the affected populations, but it will also support resilience efforts, making them better equipped to face natural disasters in the future.

“At present, El Niño is already affecting millions of people in many vulnerable regions, especially in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, and is expected to continue to do so in the next months,” the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides said at  the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21).

More than 6 million people are estimated to be suffering from the current drought, which is considered to be the most severe in the region in more than 100 years and is expected to still worsen.

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