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State of disaster declared in Zimbabwe over drought

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (photo by AFP)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has declared a state of disaster as a severe drought has been ravaging most rural areas in the South African country.

“The president has declared a state of disaster in regard to severely affected areas,” Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said in a statement on Friday.

The declaration is expected to trigger a response from the international community to provide food aid to Zimbabwe.

Currently, 26 percent of the population – comprising some 2.44 million people – is in need of food aid, said Kasukuwere.

This file picture shows a drought-stricken maize field in Gwanda District, southeast of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

Villages in southern Zimbabwe have lost cattle and crops in the drought.

“The seasonal outlook indicated from the outset that the 2015-2016 rainfall season for Zimbabwe was likely to experience normal to below normal rainfall throughout the country,” Kasukuwere explained. “This weather condition has been brought about by the El Nino phenomenon.”

The El Nino weather phenomenon sparked a dramatic rise in the number of people going hungry in Africa. It is characterized by the warming of surface waters in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, which is connected to drought in Southeast Asia, Africa and Australia and heavy rains in South America.

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