Zimbabwe to declare national emergency over food shortages

Zimbabwe’s government plans to declare a national emergency over food shortages as the United Nations warned the situation is worsening at an “alarming” pace and price-spikes for basic commodities are looming.

“We are going to announce to the world the hunger we’re facing,” Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa told lawmakers in the capital, Harare, on Thursday. “We have drought in this country and it is a pending disaster,” he said. President Robert Mugabe will make the announcement in days, he said.

Zimbabwe is facing the worst drought in almost two decades, which cut agricultural yields and farmers are losing their cattle as watering holes and pastures dry up. The government has earmarked $200 million for food imports and signed agreements to buy at least 100,000 metric tons of corn from neighboring Zambia, said Mnangagwa.

About 1.5 million of Zimbabwe’s 12 million people currently need emergency food assistance, and that number may triple this year, said Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira on Feb. 1.

“The situation is deteriorating at an alarming rate,” Eddie Rowe, an official with the UN’s World Food Programme, said in Harare on Feb. 2.

The drought has also affected South Africa and Zambia, the region’s biggest corn producers respectively.

 – Bloomberg