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Zambia Declares State of Disaster Due to Drought: Urgent Response Needed to Mitigate Impacts

In a decisive move to address the looming threat of prolonged drought, the Zambian government has declared a national state of disaster and emergency. This critical step, announced by President Hakainde Hichilema, underscores the gravity of the situation, with 84 out of 116 districts severely affected. The declaration aims to expedite a coordinated response to safeguard food security and combat potential electricity shortages, as reported by Xinhua.

President Hichilema’s address highlighted the stark realities facing the nation, as approximately 1 million hectares of farmland—almost half of the planted area—bear the brunt of the dry spell. With over 1 million farming households feeling the impact, urgent measures are imperative to avert a humanitarian crisis.

“The disaster and emergency are severe, and the government is responding with urgency,” emphasized President Hichilema during the national address, underscoring the gravity of the situation. He stressed the need for a reallocation of resources towards humanitarian aid, signaling a commitment to addressing immediate needs.

Key among the government’s strategies is the implementation of measures to alleviate the strain on electricity supply. With a current deficit of 430 megawatts—a figure projected to surge to 520 megawatts by December 2024—importing electricity and rationing become vital interventions. President Hichilema also appealed for support from international partners to mitigate the adverse effects of the drought, driven by the specter of climate change.

In addition to short-term measures, the Zambian government is embracing long-term strategies to bolster resilience against future droughts. President Hichilema outlined plans to enhance water harvesting mechanisms and promote irrigation development. These initiatives aim to stimulate agricultural productivity, ensuring sustained food security in the face of climatic uncertainties.

As Zambia navigates this challenging period, collaboration between government agencies, humanitarian organizations, and international partners is paramount. The collective effort must prioritize the delivery of aid to affected communities while implementing sustainable solutions to mitigate the impacts of drought-induced crises.

The declaration of a state of disaster serves as a sobering reminder of the urgent need for proactive measures to confront climate-related challenges. With concerted action and unwavering commitment, Zambia can weather the storm of drought, safeguarding the well-being of its citizens and fostering a resilient future for generations to come.

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