Government failed to plan ahead for the El Niño drought, Senator says


HARARE – Senator Sithabisiwe Moyo, representing Matabeleland South for the CCC, criticized the government's response to the El Niño drought during a Senate session last Tuesday. She claimed the government failed to heed warnings of poor rainfall for the 2023/2024 summer cropping season.

Senator says government of Zimbabwe failed to plan ahead for El Niño induced drought
Villagers collect their monthly allocations of food aid provided by the World Food Program (WFP) in Mumijo, Buhera district, east of the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, March 16, 2024. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Moyo said that when weather experts announced that there would be poor rainfall due to the El Niño weather phenomenon, government continued carrying its work without paying due attention to the impending reality. 

She argued that farming inputs such as fertilizers were distributed as usual, despite warnings of insufficient rainfall.

"So looking at this, I would say that Government did not take this seriously thinking that this would be like any other year," she said. 

"Government should be a government which cares and observes that the money which is used to buy fertilizer and inputs was supposed instead to be channeled to buying food for helping people in regions like Region 5 in Matabeleland South."

Moyo suggested Zimbabwe could learn from countries like Israel, which has managed to avoid famine despite its arid climate. 

"Matabeleland is as big as Israel. Israel is a country which has no poverty but there is not enough rain because Israel is carrying out water harvesting by building dams and preserving water.  

"So as a nation, I believe that we can learn from other countries because if we would learn from such countries, then areas like Matabeleland would not be facing drought.  

"Government should build dams and irrigation schemes where there would be water harvesting. When the rain comes, that water should be harvested so that it benefits communities."

She added that people in the rural areas are suffering from the drought because "we do not plan ahead". 

Meanwhile, CCC Senator Sesel Zvidzai for Midlands argued that the international community, particularly industrialized nations in the West and China, should be held accountable for climate change. 

He noted that these nations emit more carbon than Africa, yet Africans suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change.

The El Niño-induced drought in Zimbabwe has had devastating effects, with 2.7 million people expected to face food insecurity from April 2023 until the end of March 2024. This number is expected to rise. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a national state of disaster due to the drought and appealed to Zimbabweans and the international community for over $2 billion to address the food crisis.

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