Power and Politics

Hichilema declares drought national disaster and emergency, as 2.2 million hectares of farmlands destroyed


President Hakainde Hichilema has declared the dry spell that has seen more than 2.2 million hectares of farmland destroyed as a national disaster, and an emergency while announcing key measures to ameliorate the situation.

Eighty out of 116 districts are said to have their farmlands destroyed and only the districts of Muchinga and Northern Provinces have been spared from the dry spell.

Speaking during a press briefing at State House in Lusaka on Thursday, President Hichilema described the current dry spell as the most devastating in the history of the country as more than 2.2 million hectares had been completely destroyed.

“This is the most severe drought, last year it was a combination of drought and floods and now this drought has affected more than 2.2 million farmland thereby compounding the situation,” he said.

Read more: Informal sector alliance calls for winter cropping, as dry spells intensify, food shortages imminent

President Hichilema said power supply was expected to be cut by 500 megawatts, which would call for radical and decisive measures.

This he said would include a combination of power imports and alternative power generation.

The President then went into pronouncing measures to relieve pressure on households and the general economy.

Among the measures included realigning the budget to undertake relief and humanitarian activities in hard hit districts.

The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has been directed to start community sells in drought affected areas while doing local maize mop up before importing any corn.

President Hichilema appealed to farmers with irrigation means to immediately commence winter cropping to produce maize and other crops in the short and medium term.

He directed the defense forces to immediately go into winter maize production activities to satisfy the local demand while hinting at directing councils to come up with bylaws that outlawed burning of bushes among other activities that affected the environment.

President Hichilema feared that the dry spell would reverse most of the economic targets for this year and appealed to the global system to help in the debt restructuring.

He noted that failure or more delay in achieving debt restructuring would spell doom for Zambia while affecting the global system.

“I urge the private creditors to come to the table so that we close the process because failure to close the deal would be an indictment on the global system, closure is essential,” President Hichilema said.

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