Zimbabwe says it will require $1.6bn in food aid in 2016

Zimbabwe will require $1.6 billion to combat hunger amid the country’s most severe drought in two decades that’s already left 3 million people without enough to eat, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said.

Of that amount, $717 million is needed to buy grain, with another $200 million for school feeding programs and almost $140 million to support livestock farmers, according to a statement distributed on Tuesday in the capital, Harare.

“I am therefore appealing to private sector, religious and civil organizations and ordinary citizens, inclusive of those in the diaspora,” to assist with the emergency relief efforts, Mnangagwa said.

The drought that has decimated livestock herds, ruined harvests and left more than a quarter of the country’s 15 million people lacking secure food supplies was declared a national disaster by President Robert Mugabe last week. It’s hitting an economy struggling to rebound from a near decade-long recession through 2009 as the government tries to mend donor relations and repay debts to access outside aid.

This is the second year of unseasonably dry weather in Zimbabwe and the low rainfall may be linked to the El Nino weather pattern, according to the United Nations humanitarian agency, known as OCHA. Since the beginning of January, Zimbabwe has received less than a quarter of normal rainfall, it said. That’s forced people to turn to unsafe sources of water, contributing to a typhoid outbreak. About 800 cases have been detected in the capital, Harare, as of Feb. 7, the agency said.

On Wednesday, the government will meet with foreign diplomats to appeal for emergency aid, said Mnangagwa.

 – Bloomberg