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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

SADC launches US$5.5 billion drought mitigation appeal

Story by Josephine Mugiyo, Diplomatic Correspondent

THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) has launched a US$5.5 billion appeal after the hard-hitting drought experienced by member states, leaving millions in need of food aid.

The appeal was launched as the SADC Heads of State and Government convened a Virtual Extra Ordinary Summit this Monday.

Over 60 million people in the SADC region are facing food shortages as the El-Nino induced drought hits hard, affecting yields.

Some of the affected countries, which include Zimbabwe, have declared a state of disaster.

The severity of the impending food crisis spurred the leaders into holding the extra ordinary summit, where SADC Secretary General Mr Elias Magosi stressed the need for decisive action.

SADC chairperson, Dr Joao Lourenço said the region is seeking help as the severity of the situation is more than the bloc can handle.

“The hardest-hit countries need our support so that they may face the needs of their people. We have been witnessing with concern that we are faced with two situations, the El-Nino induced drought and floods,” he said.

In his presentation during the virtual meeting, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said it is urgent and imperative for the bloc to scale up implementation of bold actions to mitigate the effects of climate change-induced disasters and build robust adaptation measures and as a long-term measure.

“Focus must remain on increasing our capacities to produce adequate food to feed our people, inspite of climate change. The need to enhance water harvesting infrastructure, invest in efficient irrigation systems and speed up the regional fertiliser programme, cannot be over emphasised,” said the President.

President Mnangagwa also outlined the drought mitigation measures the country has put in place.

“In the case of Zimbabwe, my government has rolled out a broad array of proactive production driven interventions as part of our country’s drought mitigation strategies. In this respect Zimbabwe has adopted a wheat based food security matrix, which taps into our comparative and competitive advantage in growing wheat during winter season.”

After a closed-door session, the leaders announced the launch of a US$5,5 billion international appeal to cater for more than 60 million vulnerable people.

Calls were also made for countries with surplus grain to assist those with deficit.

Meanwhile, as read in the closing communique, the Heads of State who participated in the virtual meeting strongly condemned the attempted coup in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The SADC chairperson also called on the media to play its part in portraying the real situation on the ground as the region seeks to attract the attention of the international community.

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