Adverse dry spell, erratic rainfall worsens Zambia’s food insecurity situation

  • More than 2.3 million people food insecure
  • Better rainfall expected in the second half of the rainy season not enough to cover up for the deficit experienced in the first half.
  • Reduced water allocation for power generation at Kariba due to erratic rainfall, depressed electricity supply

Harare – Zambia, like most of the Southern African nations has fallen victim of the El Nino induced drought that has inevitably aggravated food insecurity and is giving rise to a wide range of health problems.

An extreme rainfall deficit after a scarce 2018/2019 rain season combined with an extreme poor first half of the current season have been affecting the country.

According to a Global Drought Observatory (GDO) Analytical Report released on 13 February 2020, some areas have only received 20% of the total precipitation expected in a year with many more at a mere 50%.

Food insecurity is already widespread and the low yield expectations for the 2020 harvest loom over the next months due to erratic rains and dry spells that compromised the planting period in the Southern Region.

More than 2.3 million people are expected to be severely food insecure, with at least 412,000 of them in Emergency levels according to the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) report

Since the beginning of January this year, Zambia has been facing successive floods that destroyed crops in areas already facing food shortages resulting from the drought.

These recurrent climatic shocks are aggravating the already fragile food insecurity situation in the country.

Zambia is expected to receive a normal second half of the rainy season however insufficient to offset the cumulated deficits in the first half.

Erratic water supply has immensely affected the agricultural sector hence little hope for revival of produce to the nation.

Low water levels at Kariba have resulted in crippling power outages that have in turn affected output and since Zambia has a high risk of debt, it cannot tap into foreign reserves to import power.

Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) recently allocated at least 22 billion cubic metres for power generation at the Kariba South and North power stations.

According to ZRA, reduction of water allocation means reduced outflow from the turbines during power generation, while allowing the lake to fill up.

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