Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has declared a state of disaster in most rural parts of the country severely hit by a drought, with 26 percent of the
population said to be in need of food aid, the government said in a statement late Thursday.
The country has been experiencing abnormally low rainfall since last year, with an estimated 2.5 million people in need of food aid, the decision comes days
after the EU urged him to declare a state of disaster doing so they said will allow international donors to raise money quickly to provide food aid to Zimbabwe.
The government said it will step up imports of the staple maize from neighboring Zambia, by buying up to 700,000 tonnes this year to avert hunger. Thousands of cattle have died as their grazing areas are parched. “With rains failing almost completely this year, the situation is getting desperate,
” Jan Vossen, Zimbabwe director for the charity Oxfam, said, “In certain parts of the country, we even see that people, farmers, are using the thatch of their roofs to feed their cattle,” he said. The agricultural sector has been the worst affected, with tobacco and cotton farmers also bracing themselves for disaster.