Zim: From drought to floods

HARARE - As Zimbabwe moves from El Nino to La Nina, the number of food insecure Zimbabweans will rise to nearly six million by January 2017 from 4,1 million.

El Nino, a climatic condition characterised by droughts which ravaged the country in the 2015/2016 agricultural season, is likely to be replaced by La Nina which is synonymous with heavy rains and flash-floods.

Zvishavane, which falls under Regions 4 and 5, is a relatively dry area characterised by low and erratic rainfalls.

A visit to the area showed that villagers were at their last bags of maize, the rivers have long gone completely dry and the fields were barren.

Constance Mbira of Bhayu Village and beneficiary of food aid from the Japanese government said the assistance came at the opportune time when her last harvest was at its knees.

She said apart from looming hunger, she also had to look for other sources of income.

“My children need school fees and now the little food that I had harvested, I anticipated on selling it so that they could attend school. If that had run out we would have ended up feeding on matamba (a wild indigenous fruit),” she said.

World Food Programme (WFP) country director Eddie Rowe told the Daily News on Sunday that the moment a family only has one bag of maize left, it is considered food insecure.

Rowe said WFP is engaging partners to conduct a Rapid Assessment in December, however resources permitting, a national assessment should be done to understand the food security changes in households.

He insisted that with strong probabilities of a La Nina, flash floods are likely to heavily impact families in the long run.

“By January, if there is an impact of La Nina, we could probably be looking at five to six million food insecure people. Areas such as Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South and parts of the Midlands will be greatly affected,” Rowe said.

He added that a shift from maize to small grains such as millet and sorghum would be best for people in areas that are likely to be affected by La Nina.

Oxfam’s regional media and communications manager, Faith Kasina, said Zimbabwe’s situation will only get worse before it gets better as the next harvest will only be ready by March 2017.

Kasina said government should continue working with donors to plug gaps as well as support vulnerable communities to move from dependence on rain-fed agriculture.

“Urgent action is needed both to meet people’s food needs now, ensure food markets are able to function effectively, and to help people plant successfully in the coming months. And yet across southern Africa, there is currently a $2.5 billion funding gap for the response,” Kasina said.

During a discussion with the Community Working Group on Health and the ministry of Health, Mutoko South legislator David Chapfika said people on chronic disease medication were dying because of hunger.

“People in Kwekwe who are being treated for elephantiasis are dying because while they need to take their medication, they are doing so on an empty stomach which affects their recovery. There is no food,” he said.

According to the Meteorological Services Department, despite the high chances of higher than usual rains this season, in terms of national strategic planning and development, Zimbabwe should always expect, and plan for, one form of drought or another.

The Met Department said water harvesting, especially in regions 4 and 5, should continue as there are indications of deterioration in the rainfall amounts as the season progresses.

They also indicated that as many communal farmers lost cattle during the drought, there is need to capacitate them with tractors as the bulk of the crop that goes to the Grain Marketing Board comes from small-scale farmers.

“Inputs, including small grains should be distributed to all regions by the end of this month in Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Midlands and southern districts of Manicaland and by the end of October for the rest of the country,” the Met Department said.

Comments (1)

we seem not to understand this article . Are you predicting floods this season or what because you seem to contradict yourself again by forcasting drought in some regions dzeZimbabwe -- come on be clear dont expect all Zimbos to be educated to understand your crooked explanation

mukanya - 25 October 2016

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