With the cyclone that hit the Eastern regions earlier this year and the introduction of the Zimbabwean dollar, Zimbabwe is at the brink of starvation and the United Nations on Tuesday increased its aid appeal to $331.5 million for the country.
The drought is responsible for low water levels at the biggest hydro plant Kariba that has reduced power generation and triggered rolling power cuts across the nation.
Prices of staples such as sugar, cooking oil and rice have more than doubled since June, jacking up inflation to 175.66%. This follows the country’s worst economic crisis in a decade.
Reports estimate that over 2.2 million people in urban areas require food aid, bringing the total to 7.7 million, more than half of the Southern African nation’s population.
Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme David Beasley said 2.3 million people in rural Zimbabwe need emergency food aid now and the figure is likely to increase to 5.5 million during the lean season up to March next year.
The money to be raised would be used for food aid, provision of water and sanitation and cash handouts to stricken families.
“We are talking about people who truly are marching towards starvation if we are not here to help them,” Beasley said at the launch of Zimbabwe’s humanitarian appeal to international donors.
“We are facing a drought unlike any that we have seen in a long time. We don’t have the luxury of fiddling while Rome burns.”
As the impact of the drought spreads, The United Nations needs more funding than the previous $294 million they had appealed for.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday declared the drought a national disaster.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told the same meeting that the government was surprised by the impact of the drought on power generation.
Government officials in the country say Zimbabwe would import 400 MW of electricity from neighbouring South Africa’s Eskom after agreements to make weekly payments of $890,000 to clear its debt.